Sustainable soil management in the 25th century
R. B. Mapa
University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, LK
About R. B.
Department of Soil Science, Faculty of Agriculture
In managing soils of Sri Lanka in a sustainable manner in the 21st century, many problems that cause soil degradation has to be overcome. The major soil degradation processes are listed as soil erosion, fertility decline and salination. The soil erosion problem has to be overcome by providing incentives for small scale farmers to practice soil conservation and urging the private companies that reap the benefit of land to reinvest in protecting the soil. The Soil Conservation act has to be amended to include non-agricultural activities that cause soil erosion. Soil conservation activities of all government and semi-government agencies involved in agriculture must be brought under one umbrella as a Soil Conservation Authority, for farmers to be provided with a package, according to their needs. As agricultural extension activities are devolved, more assistance and training must be provided to officers in Provincial Councils on soil conservation. In addition, plantation forests must be relocated in hydrologically critical areas releasing some of these suitable lands for agriculture. The fertility decline, mainly caused by low soil organic matter content has to be addressed by the introduction of agro-forestry models in each agro-ecological region. Compost making from urban waste has to be encouraged which will solve a long standing environmental problem and make available more organic materials that could be added to the soil. Use of balance fertilizer mixtures and liming of acidic soils in the wet zone are other strategies that could be adopted. Development of a soil data base that could be used in land use planning is a real need, if we are to manage our soil resources in a sustainable manner in the 21st century.
30 Dec 2003.