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Healthy and productive soils are pre-requisite for sustainable food security

Considering the earlier soil education and looking at the soil resources capacity for ecosystem services, I have reached to the conclusion that over the past many years, the overexploitation of the Earth has shrunk the land resources to an unprecedented level and there is a growing concern that it may not be able to provide needed ecosystem services to the mankind in future, especially the food for the existing and ever growing population. In addition the impact of climate change will cause fmiher food and water shmiages, increased displacements of people, increased poverty and coastal flooding leading to significant infrastructure disintegration. Thus the sustainability in food security is at high risk. Sustainability requires that human demand for food is less than what the biosphere can produce. The Global Footprint Network (GFN 20 15) promotes the science of sustainability measurement by advancing the Ecological Footprint (EF) and the Biocapacity (BC). The nationwide EF reminds us; to know if national infrastructure investments and innovative strategies are increasing or decreasing our long-term resource dependence; is national economy an "Ecological Debtor" or an "Ecological Creditor"?

In 2011, Eatih's BC was approximately 12.04 billion global hectares (gha) which is 1.72 gha per capita per year, whereas the EF was 18.54 billion gha equivalents to 2.65 gha per capita per year (GFN 2015). This revealed that humanity needs the regenerative capacity of 1.5 Emihs to provide the ecological goods and services we use each year. This shows that currently our eatih is ecological debtor, because since 1990 we have reached the overshoot by September each year, and between October-December humanity is on over draw and pushing up against the Earth's limits. This shows that we are using the world's resources as they were inexhaustible, continually withdrawing from an account, but never paying in and thus jeopardizing our and our children future (Shahid, 20 15). Under business as usual (BAU) scenario, by 2050 agricultural production must increase by 60 percent globally- and almost 100 percent in developing countries - in order to meet food demand alone for 9 billion. These targets can be achieved by intensifYing land uses to produce more food. Over many years humans have used soils to gain great economic rewards. However, many of the methods used to gain those benefits are now seen as unsustainable, because in many cases they lead to degrade land (Shahid et al 20 15). Hence land degradation (loss or reduction of land functions or land uses) becomes a serious worldwide environmental problem, especially in the drylands that occupy one-third of the Emih's land surface. The drylands have the potential for agricultural intensification if the soil health is properly maintained during the growing season. Trials on soil amendments for forage production (barley) at the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) have revealed a general increase, and in some cases a doubling of fresh biomass over the control treatment where amendments were not added (Shahid et al., 20 15).

Shabbir A. Shahid
Publication type: 
Conference Proceedings
Publication Source: 
Proceedings of the International Conference on Soil Sustainability and Food Security, Nov. 15-17, 2015
Page Number: 

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