#SaveSoil – Join this Movement Today

#SaveSoil is a movement started by the Indian Spiritual Guru Sadhguru. To spread the awareness about the soil degradation and make people understand the importance of bringing the organic matter back to the agriculture soil, the ‘Journey to Save Soil’ was launched in London on 21 March, setting Sadhguru (the founder) off on a 100-day motorcycle journey through 26 countries.

What is Soil degradation?

Soil degradation is the reduction or loss of the biological or economic productivity and complexity of rainfed cropland, irrigated cropland, or range, pasture, forest or woodlands resulting from natural processes, land uses or other human activities. Land degradation is due to the activities of human hands which loses all the fertility and quality of soil.

What are the causes of Soil degradation?

The various causes of soil degradation are given below:

Physical Factors

There are several physical factors adding to soil degradation recognized by the way in which they change the natural composition and structure of the soil. Precipitation, surface overflow, floods, wind erosion, tillage, and mass movements bring about the loss of fertile top spoil thereby declining soil quality.

Biological Factors

Biological factors refer to the human and plant activities that tend to reduce the quality of the soil. Some bacteria and fungi overgrowth in an area can highly impact the microbial activity of the soil through biochemical reactions, which reduces crop yield and the suitability of soil productivity capacity.

Chemical Factors

The reduction of soil nutrients because of alkalinity or acidity or water logging are all categorized under the chemical components of soil degradation. In the broadest sense, it comprises alterations in the soil’s chemical property that determine nutrient availability.

Deforestation

Humans, for their selfish needs, are destroying the forest lands and occupying the land for developmental activities. They clear the natural landscape to make room for farms and pastures, to harvest timber, and to build roads and houses. These activities result in deforestation. Other causes of deforestation may include drought, forest fires, and climate change.

Excessive use of Fertilizers

The exorbitant use and the misuse of pesticides and compound manures kill organisms that help in binding the dirt together. Most agricultural practices include the utilization of manures and pesticides frequently leading to the misuse or exorbitant application, consequently adding to the killing of soil’s useful microbes and other microorganisms that assist in soil development.

Industrial and Mining Activities

Soil is essentially contaminated by industrial and mining exercises. For instance, mining obliterates crop cover and releases a bunch of harmful toxic chemicals, for example, mercury, into the soil thereby poisoning it and rendering it unproductive for any other purpose.

Industrial activities, then again, discharge harmful effluents and material wastes into the air, land, waterways, and groundwater that ultimately contaminate the soil and thus, it impacts the soil quality. Through and through, industrial and mining activities degrade the soil’s physical, synthetic, and natural properties.

Improper Agricultural Practices

There are certain agricultural practices that are naturally unreasonable and simultaneously, they are the single greatest contributor to the worldwide increase in soil quality decline. The tillage on agricultural lands is one of the primary factors since it breaks up the soil into finer particles, which increase erosion rates. The soil quality decline is exuberated increasingly more because of the mechanization of farming that gives space for profound furrowing, decrease of plant cover, and the development of the hardpan.

Urbanization

Urbanization has major implications on the soil degradation process. Foremost of all, it denudates the soil’s vegetation cover, compacts soil during construction, and alters the drainage pattern.

Secondly, it covers the soil in an impermeable layer of concrete that amplifies the amount of surface runoff which results in more erosion of the topsoil. Again, most of the runoff and sediments from urban areas are extremely polluted with oil, fuel, and other chemicals.

Overgrazing

The rates of soil erosion and the loss of soil nutrients, as well as the topsoil, are highly contributed by overgrazing. Overgrazing destroys surface crop cover and breaks down soil particles, increasing the rates of soil erosion. As a result, soil quality and agricultural productivity are greatly affected.

Effects of Soil degradation

Food Crisis

In 20 years, 40% less food is expected to be produced for 9.3 billion people. Poor soil leads to poor nutritional value. Today’s fruits and vegetables already contain 90% fewer nutrients. 2 billion people suffer from nutritional deficiencies leading to multitude of diseases.

Water Scarcity

Depleted soils cannot absorb and regulate water flows. Lack of water retention leads to water scarcity, droughts & floods.Organic matter can hold up to 90% of its weight in water and release it slowly over time. This is a big help in drought-prone areas.

Loss of biodiversity

Scientists say that around 27000 species of life forms are becoming extinct every year due to loss of habitat. The crisis has reached a point where 80% of the insect biomass has gone. Loss of biodiversity further disrupts the soil habitat and prevents soil regeneration.

Carbon Emissions

Carbon stored in soil is 3x that in living plants, and 2x that in the atmosphere, which means soil is crucial for carbon sequestration. If the world’s soils are not revitalized, they could release 850 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere contributing to climate change. This is more than all of humanity’s emissions in the last 30 years combined.

Loss of Livelihood

Thousands of farmers are committing suicide due to depletion in soil. 74% of the poor are directly affected by land degradation globally. It is estimated that soil extinction is costing the world up to US$ 10.6 trillion every year.

The Movement

Food doesn’t come from Uber Eats, it comes from soil. The healthier the soil, the healthier your food, the healthier your body“, said Sadhguru during an event. When asked what can be done by a youth member in the audience, he replied “start local, involve your neighbourhood, start a vegetable garden, get your hands in the soil – not in the dirt as is commonly said, as soil is not dirty – it is rich, it is our foundation of a healthy life and a safe environment.”

The aim of #SaveSoil movement is to

  • Turn the world’s attention to degraded soil;
  • Inspire 3.5 billion people (60% of the world’s electorate) to support policy redirections to safeguard, nurture and sustain soils; and
  • Drive national policy changes in 193 nations towards raising and maintaining the organic content of soils to a minimum of 3-6%.

What Do I Do As An Earth Buddy?

It’s simple! For a minimum of 10 minutes a day, as an Earth Buddy you can create awareness in your own circles about the condition of soil. You can simply do this by:

  • Talking to people around you about soil
  • Sharing a video or message
  • Posting on social media
  • Amplifying the various facts and content published by Isha Foundation’s social media handles

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