National ,18th July 2023

- Sanjiv Kanwar, Managing Director, Yara South Asia

‘How new age Zinc fertilization can be a lifesaving practice?’

he largest living entity is dying and it’s the soil beneath our feet.

Soils are home to quarter of all terrestrial species. And today, we are facing a scary soil crisis.While soil erosion occurs naturally, it is accelerated by 1000 times due to intensive agriculture, and improper fertilizer use. Topsoil the size of a soccer field is eroded every five seconds in the world. This is a crisis on steroids as 95% of food is produced on the topsoil.

To protect soil fertility, let’s understand the correlation between agriculture and soil biodiversity.One gram of soil could host billions of organisms who regulate biogeochemical cycles. This life is the biggest ally of farmers. With nature-first crop solutions, we can work alongside soil biota to reverse soil erosion and increase yields.

For instance, in India's Soil Health Card Scheme, farmers receive a card with soil nutrient status and crop recommendations. Basis this, relevant fertilizers will promote crop growth, and increase the root biomass in the soil. Along with this, bio stimulants are key to nurture soils. They act like ‘vitamins’ in the soil and trigger natural plant processes - improving nutrient use efficiency, and soil life.

Another threat of soils is groundwater depletion. India is largest user of groundwater - 87% of it is used in agriculture. With climate change on the rise, technologies such as micro irrigation help save 3/4 th of the water we use. This government-supported solution has not become common yet. Continuous demonstrations and awareness programs are key to convince farmers to adopt micro-irrigation practices.

In the age of tech, leveraging digital paths to understand degrading soils better is beneficial too.For example, IoT can help generate data regarding soil moisture, nutrient content and chemical properties helping farmers make informed decisions.

Soils are connected to multiple SDGs – poverty, hunger, good health, and well-being, to name a few – making it a linchpin to achieving development in the nation. It takes a thousand years to form two-three centimeters of topsoil and one harvest to destroy it forever. Our soils are struggling to breathe but there is still time to rebuild it into the thriving ecosystem that it once was.