Millions of tonnes of soil have been eroded every year and the earth is bearing the brunt of soil erosion, according to the UN on the World Earth Day which is celebrated on December 5 every year.
The issue is even more severe when we know that every 5 seconds, the equivalent of one soccer field of soil is eroded. The fact that soil is made up of minerals, organic matter and air in different proportions hints at the clarion call to save our earth before it is too late.
By and large, soil and groundwater salinity have been considered to be one of the most significant agricultural problems facing farming in the Sultanate. The availability of less rainfall, presence of high temperature, are considered to be conducive to the accumulation of salts in soils and they are highly prevalent in Oman.
Accordingly, the area of land available for agriculture has reduced because of soil salinity, says a spokesperson at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF), adding it as one of the most difficult challenges facing the sector in the country, besides a number of external/ internal factors are also affecting the fertility of soil according to the MoAF.
“Added to it, most of the lands have sandy or alluvial soil, which have high permeability and poor ability to hold water”, he adds.
He further said that while rain, wind and temperature constitute the most important external factors which allow qualities inherent in the soil to appear, soil type, aeration, depth, gravel percentage, topography, biological activity, availability of water and ease of its absorption and type of native rock are the internal factors that contribute to the fertility of soil.
“The physical, chemical, biological and topographic properties contribute to the soil fertility and Omani soil is organic. However, the organic manure content is not considered as an adequate nutrient for economic production unless inorganic fertiliser components are added in large quantities making it suitable for cultivation”, said the Ministry.
PREVENTING SOIL EROSION
“We can prevent soil erosion and save our earth and the natural habitats from extinction by some simple steps like planting grass, shrubs and improving drainage.”
“Also, one needs to reduce watering if possible and avoid soil compaction. Mulch matting should be used to hold vegetation on slopes and build retaining walls so that the quality of soil can be retained for better cultivation.”
Oman Observed World Soil Day 2019 with the theme ‘Stop soil erosion, Save our future’, a theme that focused on the increasing challenges in soil management.
The World Soil Day was declared at the 68th session of the UN General Assembly in view of its importance for life, as it provides the medium for the growth of a plant, habitat for several insects and other organisms in 2013.