World Soil Day 2021: Soil Salinization

Self Help AfricaNews

As we celebrate World Soil Day on Sunday, 5th December 2021, we are reminded of the vital role that soil has to play in our survival on planet earth.

World Soil Day 2021 highlights the issue of soil salinization around the world. Salts are naturally present in soils, but factors – primarily poorly designed irrigation schemes – can increase the amount of salt in soils. This process is called salinization, and it breaks down soils and reduces the ability of soil to grow food. 

Soil salinization is a major threat to our ecosystems, and a global threat to agricultural production, food security and sustainability – particularly in tropical and arid/semi arid areas. Already, huge parts of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the USA are no longer suitable for agriculture. 

The theme of World Soil Day 2021 is ‘Halt soil salinization – boost soil productivity. The day aims to highlight the importance of our soils to our ecosystems and wellbeing, and to encourage societies to continue to work to improve soil health. 

Here’s a few more facts on soil for World Soil Day 2021:

  • Soil continues to degrade at rates that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) predict could lead to a loss of all topsoil, within 60 years.
  • Every year, soil salinization removes approximately 1.5 million hectares of farmland per year from agricultural production. 
  • It is estimated that 8.7% of the planet is covered by salt-affected soil.

It’s why Self Help Africa promotes and trains and supports hundreds of thousands of farming households annually to carefully manage and protect this precious resource. It’s why we promote crop rotation, natural composting, application of manures and natural fertilisers and planting trees on the land. It’s also why we encourage growing complimentary crops, and why we promote a broad range of ‘climate smart’ farming techniques including zero tillage and the retention of ground cover where crops are being grown.

Here’s a great short animated video from The European Environment Agency on the importance of soil!