SA expert highlights plight of global soil

2013-11-05 10:31

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Cape Town - A South African soil scientist has highlighted the plight of global soil quality in a study published in the prestigious journal Science.

According to Prof Mary Scholes, researcher at Wits University, the major threats involve land use practises like overgrazing and continuous use of the land without replenishing nutrients.

“Cultivating soil continuously for too long destroys the bacteria which convert the organic matter into nutrients,” she said.

Scholes said that sustainable soil quality could be achieved through a balance of new technologies and changes in behaviour and attitudes.

“The technologies will include the use of inorganic and organic fertilisers as well as the benefits of plant breeding and selecting the right varieties of seeds to plant for the changing environmental, economic and social conditions,” she said.

“Attitudes and behaviours will need to change; otherwise the planet will not be able to meet our needs.”

In Africa, where much of the future growth in agriculture must take place, erosion has reduced yields by 8% and nutrient depletion is widespread.

“Africa will suffer in the next 50 years in terms of warming climates and reduced rainfall. The technologies exist which will allow us to adapt and mitigate - we need the will and an enabling environment across the region to make us food secure.”
Read more on:    environment
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