Soil Health: A prerogative for Food Security 1

Soil Health! Did you know that the 5th of December is celebrated annually as World Soil Day across the globe?

Soil health, also referred to as soil quality, is defined as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. This definition speaks to the importance of managing soils so they are sustainable for future generations.

To do this, we need to remember that soil contains living organisms that when provided the basic necessities of life – food, shelter, and water – perform functions required to produce food and fiber.

Did you know that this day was set aside to emphasize the pertinent role soil plays in human development?
Have you ever taken out time to understand the importance of soils in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 2 of “Zero Hunger”

Do you know what “Zero Hunger” means? Just in case you have no inclination as to what the term means, Zero Hunger is the second of the seventeen (17) Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations which seeks to end hunger, achieve food and nutrition security, and promote the practice of sustainable agriculture by the year 2030.

So back to the matter at hand, if you do understand the importance of soils, what contributions have you made to protect soils in your area? If you belong to that group of humans who see the soil as ordinary or just sand that is trampled on every day, then take a “walk” with your eyes as we journey through why it is essential to protect our soils for sustainable food production.

Soils are the pivotal cradle of any system of agricultural production. They serve as anchors for plant root and storage facilities for plant nutrients which are distributed to parts of the plant where they are needed. The quality and quantity of food produced by any farmer are largely dependent on the soil used for cultivation.

It is in this light that some Scientists in recent times clamour for the application of soil and crop-specific fertilizers to meet soil nutrient deficiency. Furthermore, soils play a significant role in combating climate change; they also reduce flood risk and serve as storage for several minerals. Even the Holy Books refer to soil as the genesis of humanity.

While the argument between Soil Scientists and Soilless-agriculture enthusiasts persists, as to which platform of food production is more sustainable i.e. soil or water, let’s dwell on the theme of this year’s World Soil Day celebration of “Be the Solution to Soil Pollution” and how we as individuals play a major role in protecting soils.

Prof. B. A. Raji, President of the Soil Science Society of Nigeria, in a press interview to mark this year’s event, highlighted oil and gas exploration, indiscriminate waste disposal, mining activities, and sometimes agricultural activities, as major causes of soil pollution in Nigeria. In picturing a typical example of soil pollution in Nigeria, take a few seconds to visualize the closest mechanic workshop to you.

Copyright: …Oil Contaminated Soil

Do you see how black and compacted that portion of soil looks? That is a typical example of soil pollution. It is worthy of note that such soils that could have been used for agricultural production would cost so much to reclaim. Another typical example of polluted soil is that area where you dispose of your house and office waste indiscriminately rather than use an incinerator or employ the services of a waste collector.

Soil Health: Conclusion

While we patiently wait for the government to commence clean-up of soils destroyed by oil exploration, we can contribute our individual quota by thinking twice before disposing of waste and refuse inappropriately. We can reduce our zest for bush burning either in search of that bush rat or as a simple method for land clearing. We can also take a chance to plant a tree today, who knows, that could make a major difference in your area.

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