The Nigeria Institute of Soil Science (NISS) on Monday urged governments, organisations, communities and individuals worldwide to engage proactively in improving soil health.
Prof. Victor Chude, the Registrar of the Institute, made the appeal in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja, ahead of the Dec. 5 commemoration of the World Soil Day (WSD).
NAN reports that the WSD is commemorated annually on Dec. 5 to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil, and advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.
The theme for the 2019 WSD is: “Stop soil erosion, save our future”.
Chude emphasised that everyone could plant vegetation to protect the soil, adding that grasses, shrubs, trees and ground cover would develop a root system keeping the soil firmly anchored to the ground.
He specifically urged policy makers to integrate sustainable soil management policies in a broader resource management agenda.
Speaking on the WSD theme, Chude said that it sought to highlight the importance of sustaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the increasing challenges in soil management and raising the profile of healthy soil.
Chude specifically listed impacts of soil erosion as decreased soil health and productivity, adding that it influenced both the quantity and quality of crop production.
Other impacts, according to him, are significant losses in soil biodiversity.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) defines soil erosion as the removal of the most fertile top layer of soil from the land surface through water, wind and tillage.
FAO notes that soil erosion occurs naturally under all climate conditions and all continents, but accelerated up to 1,000 times by unsustainable human activities.
“Our soils host about one quarter of our planet’s biodiversity; by removing the most fertile layer of soil, erosion causes a soil biodiversity decline.
“Soil erosion limits response to climate change. Displacing organic carbon, soil erosion decreases the soil’s potential to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
“It increases the risk of soil and water pollution as well as increases risk of landslide and flooding.
“Soil erosion can affect the filtration, storage and drainage of water in the soil which amplifies hydrogeological risk,” the registrar said.
He said that it could take 1,000 years to produce “just two to three centimeter of soil’’, however emphasising that by 2050 soil erosion could lead up to 10 per cent loss in crop production.
Decrying this rate of soil erosion, Chude said that if nothing was done, by 2050 the estimated crop yield would be equivalent to removing 1.5 million km of land from crop production.
He disclosed that the WSD was an international day to celebrate soil, recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002.
“Under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand and within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, FAO has approved the formal establishment of WSD as a global awareness raising platform.
“The FAO conference unanimously endorsed WSD in June 2013, and requested its official adoption at the 68th UN General Assembly. The assembly in December 2013 responded by designating Dec. 5, 2014 as the official WSD.
“The day was chosen because it corresponded with the official birthday of His Majesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand, who officially sanctioned the event.
“It was officially recognised in memory and respect for this beloved monarch who passed away in October 2016 after seven decades as head of state,” Chude noted.
The registrar said that some of the activities lined up for the commemoration are road walk and experts dialogue on soil erosion.