Bhubaneswar: The neglect meted out to the soil for decades has returned to haunt mankind across the world, speakers said at a programme to mark ‘World Soil Day’ here while calling for urgent measures to promote soil health.
The programme, organised at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences (IAS), SOA’s faculty of agricultural sciences, on Tuesday focused on inadequate agricultural land management and industrialization which led to the degradation of the soil impacting productivity.
The programme was jointly organised by IAS and Odisha chapter of Indian Society of Soil Science.
“The planet’s survival depends on the precious link between soil and water, which are two sides of the same coin. This symbiotic relationship is the foundation of agriculture,” Prof. Rabindra Kumar Panda, Director for SOA’s Centre for Climate Smart Agriculture, said.
The degradation of soil was putting excessive pressure on the earth’s water resources with 97.3 per cent of it forming the sea while barely 2.7 per cent being available for use. Of this, a miniscule 0.07 per cent was freshwater of which most part was in frozen state in glaciers, he said.
The programme, which included an interaction between farmers and agricultural scientists of IAS, was also attended by SOA Vice-Chancellor Prof. Pradipta Kumar Nanda, SOA’s Dean (Students’ Welfare) Prof. Jyoti Ranjan Das, Dean of IAS Prof. Santosh Kumar Rout and the institute’s Head of department of Soil Sciences and Agriculture Chemistry, Prof. Dinabandhu Jena.
Stating that 80 per cent of the available freshwater in India was used for agriculture, Prof. Panda said the occurrence of frequent extreme weather events were posing problems which needed development of climate resilient variety of crops.
He stressed on improving soil moisture availability by pursuing appropriate water conservation measures and rain water harvesting to recharge the ground water.
Prof. Nanda also underlined the need to maintain soil health and water quality saying “mankind has not learnt to be thankful for the gifts of soil, water and air.”
“We need to be obliged when we inhale the air, take our daily food and drink water which come to us as gifts for our sustenance and learn to take care of the earth where we live,” he said adding the degradation of air quality in most cities had become a matter of grave concern.
Prof. Das also stressed on the need for all concerned to take care of the soil and water bodies to ensure the survival of the planet.
The World Soil Day was observed on December 5 coinciding with the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand because of his contribution towards protection of environment, Prof. Jena said.
He said the problem had arisen because fertile land was getting diverted for infrastructure development which put greater pressure on the available cultivable land to produce more crops to feed the increasing population. “This required a steep rise in productivity which had become difficult because of the degradation in soil quality,” he said.
Prof. U.C. Mohanty, Distinguished Professor in SOA and Prof. Bijay Kumar Sahu, Advisor to IAS, were also present.