Healthy soil is one of the foundations for high crop production. Healthy soils are characterized by availability of water, air, microorganisms, nutrients such as Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and organic matter. Soil salinity is one of the factors that affect soil and crop health. It is the accumulation of water-soluble salts in the soil. This means that the soil has more salts than the required amount. The recommended soil pH is between 4.5-6. Soil is considered saline when the pH is above 8.
What are the common causes of soil salinity?
Soil salinization is common in areas that experience low rainfall and this is because the excess salts are not adequately flushed. Similarly, waterlogging and poor drainage contributes to salinization because the salts are not washed away through surface runoff or leaching (washing away of nutrients below the root surface). Other common causes of soil salinity include the use of salty water for irrigation, and excessive use of chemical fertilizers, which makes the soil either more acidic or alkaline.
How does this affect crop production?
When soils have excess salts, crop production is affected since there is little or no Nitrogen uptake. Nitrogen is the backbone of the plant as it aids in internal and external plant structure formation. Soil biodiversity also decreases as the microorganisms (useful for nutrient release to plants) are affected, hindering decomposition.
Improve drainage by making furrows.
Top 3 actions to take for building back healthy soils
Soil salinization can be reduced by creating proper drainage systems. This can be done by digging furrows on the farm. In addition, the use of organic matter such as Evergrow Organic Fertilizer to neutralize the salt in the soil and improve soil structure is key. Lastly, soil testing at least once a year should be done to track soil health and detect soil salinity early.
This World Soil Day, which is celebrated to bring awareness on the importance of healthy soil through sustainable management, is a great reminder to nurture soils for surplus produce and further enhance food security.