Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

More attention to the soil can boost food production

Date:
November 20, 2012
Source:
Wageningen University and Research Centre
Summary:
According to FAO, in the last thirty years a quarter of all agricultural land has become less fertile as a result of erosion, silting, soil exhaustion or other forms of land degradation. If these problems were addressed in northern China, food production there could be boosted by 25 per cent.

According to FAO, in the last thirty years a quarter of all agricultural land has become less fertile as a result of erosion, silting, soil exhaustion or other forms of land degradation. If these problems were addressed in northern China, food production there could be boosted by 25 per cent. Regional governments need to pay more attention to soil and learn from how soil restoration measures in other parts of the world have helped to increase crop yields.

This is the outcome of a study by ISRIC and Wageningen University.

A group of international researchers from the Netherlands (ISRIC and Wageningen University), Austria, China, South Africa, Switzerland, Malawi and Iceland, led by ISRIC -- World Soil Information in Wageningen suggest that this is the way forward in an article published in the November issue of Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. The article appears on the eve of the first Global Soil Week, which takes place from 18-22 November 2012 in Berlin. Policymakers and soil experts will meet to discuss plans for a coordinated approach to combatting land degradation.

Land degradation is a problem in the arid parts of the tropical and subtropical countries, which are home to over one and a half billion people. Erosion, caused by water and wind, and soil exhaustion are responsible for severe losses. Aware of this problem, 193 countries signed a UN Convention against land degradation and desertification (UNCCD) in 1991. Since then research groups have been assessing the costs of land degradation. In a catchment area in China, Chinese and Dutch researchers have assessed that the food production could be at least 25 percent higher if erosion and salinization were mitigated by the introduction of conservation practices such as dams, terracing, mulching or agroforestry.

So far however, these efforts have been insufficient to motivate governments and companies to invest in soil, the researchers conclude. One of the problems is that data on degraded areas, usually based on analyses from soil profiles or satellite photos, are not always unambiguous. There is no one agreed-upon definition of land degradation, and different institutes have their own ways of collecting and interpreting data. Estimates of the annual costs incurred from erosion in Europe alone range from 700 to 14,000 million euros.

The researchers say it has now become easier to collect, interpret and present data because of new technologies and more advanced software. With the more accurate assessments -- which are accessible online -- regions can learn from the conservation practices in comparable areas. They can see what benefits soil recovery practices have brought and what measures have worked. A start has already been made with databanks such as WOCAT, which ISRIC helped set up. The databank includes descriptions of over 450 soil and water conservation practices that have been implemented, and in many cases the positive effects on food production have been recorded too. 'There is no 'one fits all' solution', the researchers write. 'In each region local stakeholders have to decide what works best for them.''


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wageningen University and Research Centre. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Prem S Bindraban, Marijn van der Velde, Liming Ye, Maurits van den Berg, Simeon Materechera, Delwendé Innocent Kiba, Lulseged Tamene, Kristín Vala Ragnarsdóttir, Raymond Jongschaap, Marianne Hoogmoed, Willem Hoogmoed, Christy van Beek, Godert van Lynden. Assessing the impact of soil degradation on food production. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 2012; 4 (5): 478 DOI: 10.1016/j.cosust.2012.09.015

Cite This Page:

Wageningen University and Research Centre. "More attention to the soil can boost food production." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121120100153.htm>.
Wageningen University and Research Centre. (2012, November 20). More attention to the soil can boost food production. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121120100153.htm
Wageningen University and Research Centre. "More attention to the soil can boost food production." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121120100153.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) — Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) — The drop in price of soy on the international market is a cause for concern in Argentina, as soybean exports are a major source of income for Latin America's third largest economy. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) — A mama bear and her two cubs climb trees, wrestle and take naps in the backyard of a Monrovia, California home. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) — Once upon a time, farming was a blissfully low-tech business on Colombia's northern plains. Duration: 02:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins