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soil degradation

Module 4: Soil Fertility & Food Security

Ecologise has consistently driven home that humanity needs to prepare for unprecedented environmental, economic and socio-political upheaval and uncertainty in the 21st century. In this new series, we showcase free short-duration online courses that focus on these various emerging crises and possible responses. Created by the world’s leading universities, they offer a good starting point to explore these complex challenges.

Microbes will feed the world, or why real farmers grow soil, not crops

From Modern Farmer: On the horizon of agriculture’s future, a 40,000-strong army is marching towards a shimmering goal. They see the potential for a global food system where pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers are but relics of a faded age. A peek into a treasure trove of latest research released by The American Society of Microbiologists.

Why meat eaters should think much more about soil

John Sauven writes in The Guardian: Farm animals that are raised intensively require a staggering amount of animal feed and water. Livestock production occupies the vast majority of agricultural land and is the main reason why nearly 50% of the wildlife we share our planet with has disappeared since the start of the industrial revolution.

India has an ammonia problem but no policy to deal with it

The Wire reports: Using satellite data of the last 14 years, researchers have shown that a thick blanket of toxic ammonia lies over the world’s major agricultural areas, with India being the worst affected. It’s emitted mainly by fertilisers as well as poorly managed animal waste. However, India has no policy to regulate ammonia emissions.

Soil building, soil amendments and rain barrels: A primer

From Robinson Love Plants: Regular soil building and correct use of soil amendments will give us nutrient rich soils which help vastly improve food security for future generations, while water wastage can be combated by installing an effective rain barrel system. These methods are time-consuming but relatively inexpensive, and yield many passive benefits over time.

Watch: “Good nutrition begins in healthy soils”

There’s no such thing as ‘healthy food’ if it’s not produced by sustainable farming systems on living soils, Patrick Holden told the recent ‘Food: The Forgotten Medicine’ conference. But after 70 years of industrial farming, there’s a huge job to be done to restore depleted soils and the impoverished genetic diversity of seeds and crops.

A desert storm is engulfing India

Indira Khurana writes: A whopping 25 per cent of India’s total land (329 mn ha) is undergoing desertification while 32 per cent (105 mn ha) is facing degradation that has reduced productivity, critically affecting livelihoods and food security of millions across the country. Combating desertification brings together three interdependent natural resources: Land, water and biodiversity.

Interview: DJ Bagyaraj – India’s only contributor to the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas

Chethan Kumar reports: The recently Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas, is a first-of-its-kind attempt to present the latest research and raise awareness on the role of soil organisms. Bangalore-based scientist D.J. Bagyaraj, the only Indian contributor to the Atlas, talks about the vital role of soil biodiversity for sustainable food production and prevention of land degradation.

Seven projects around the world that protect soil

Rocco Pallin writes: Thirty-three percent of soil worldwide is degraded, and 50,000 square kilometers of soil are lost each year. Soil is not a renewable resource and “isn’t recoverable within a human lifespan,” but sustainable practices could increase the world’s food production by 58 percent. Here are seven projects helping to restore the world’s soil.

Video: Cowism! How an engineer is transforming Indian agriculture

Chetan Raut, founder of the intriguingly named startup Cowism, aims to empower distressed Maharashtra farmers to become self-reliant and financially independent by integrating commercially useful assets like native cattle into farming practices to improve soil fertility, lower input costs, and raise profits. “Invariably, the solutions to our problems lie right under our noses,” says Chetan.

NEWS UPDATE #83

Common Dreams reports: A new analysis, published in Science Advances journal, reveals that global water scarcity is a far greater problem than previously thought, affecting 4 billion people—two-thirds of the world’s population. Previous analyses looked at water scarcity at an annual scale, and had found that water scarcity affected between 1.7 and 3.1 billion people.

The sixth mass extinction and chemicals in the environment

Colin Todhunter writes: A new paper by Rosemary A. Mason in the Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry, titled ‘The sixth mass extinction and chemicals in the environment’ indicates that a ‘sixth extinction’ is presently under way (The Sixth Extinction, describes the ongoing extinction of species during the present Holocene epoch – since around 10,000 BCE). Download paper: The sixth mass extinction and chemicals in the

New book: Elemental India : The Natural World in Crisis

From the blurb: Around the world, people are increasingly facing a future that is crowded and hot, subject to violent weather extremes and a changing climate, where the rich and poor inhabit separate spheres and governments are unable or unwilling to confront these most vital challenges. For India, this reality is the very tangible present.

Only 60 years of farming left if soil degradation continues

Generating three centimeters of top soil takes 1,000 years, and if current rates of degradation continue all of the world’s top soil could be gone within 60 years, a senior UN official said Chris Arsenault, Reuters  ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Generating three centimeters of top soil takes 1,000 years, and if current rates of degradation

Shashank Kela: Some notes on the ecological crisis in India

Who cares about the environment? Some notes on the ecological crisis in India Shashank Kela The past few months have been exceptional, in one respect at least, for the Indian press: a serious structural problem has actually been given the attention it deserves. The Economic Times continues to play a prominent part in discussing air pollution in

News update

It’s Official: Global Carbon Levels Surpassed 400 ppm for Entire Month Common Dreams Marking yet another grim milestone for an ever-warming planet, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revealed that, for the first time in recorded history, global levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere averaged over 400 parts per million (ppm) for an entire

Allan Savory: A Global Strategy for Addressing Global Climate Change

Editor’s note: Allan Savory is the recipient of the 2003 Australian International Banksia Award for the person or organization doing the most for the environment on a global scale. Below is  Executive Summary of his paper on combating Climate Change. Executive Summary  Simplistic and counter intuitive as it may be, the fate of civilization today hangs

George Monbiot: Soil – the crisis to beat them all?

War, pestilence, even climate change, are trifles by comparison. Destroy the soil and we all starve. George Monbiot Imagine a wonderful world, a planet on which there was no threat of climate breakdown, no loss of freshwater, no antibiotic resistance, no obesity crisis, no terrorism, no war. Surely, then, we would be out of major

A quarter of India is slowly turning into desert

25 percent of India’s total land is undergoing desertification while 32 percent is facing degradation that has affected its productivity, critically affecting livelihoods and food security of millions across the country. As much as 105.19 million hectares of the country’s total geographical area of 328.73 Mha is being degraded while 82.18 Mha is undergoing desertification.