Evaluation of Soil Management Strategies in Two Named Farming Systems

10 October 2016

Evaluation of the soil management strategies in the India The more time goes past, the more man starts realising how the management and the way we threat soils is important to insure its preservation and conservation. Nowadays, around 9. 4 million hectares of soil, which represent the 0. 5% of the land present on our planet, is irreparably damaged and has no longer any biological function. In other words, it can no longer be used in any useful way to provide food or other elements to the earth’s tenants.

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There are though, two factors that influence soil degradation; the human factor and the natural one. The most impactful one is the human one, as we tend to create disequilibrium in the rate at which soil forms and at which it is eroded or degraded. This is due to the fact that farmers work the soil too frequently or misunderstand and mismanage their lands. On the other hand, erosion and degradation, which embody the natural factors, are part of nature’s cycle and over time, they do not create imbalances.

In poorer countries, farmers use subsistence farming and they are in a way constricted to do so, as they not only lack of economical resources to buy machinery and conditioners, but also because the quality of the soil often doesn’t give them the opportunity to be able to work the land more intensively. In the regions of West Bengal located in the northwest of India to take an example, the density of the population is so high that farmers only can use their little land holding to produce enough in order to feed themselves and their families.

This way of managing the soil is called subsistence farming and is also used in the entire southeast of India, where the soil is so degraded that the population has no other choice but to use this agricultural strategy named sedentary farming. It involves farming always at the same place, living there and getting crops relying uniquely on labour and not on any capital investments. In India we can find a very large division, varying from economical to socio-political, and even agricultural.

Up in the Northwest of India, within the hills of Jaipur in Rajasthan, intensive commercial farmers are predominant as the country represents the fourth biggest agricultural power of the world. The practices and components involved in intensive farming are harmful to the soil because farmers take advantage of the resources that are available and often abuse their terrain in such way that it harms it, leading to an increase of the rate at which the land is deteriorated.

But not all methods are harmful to Nature; the method used in the forests of north India by the poorer citizens has a much better environmental impact than the industrial one used by richer farmers. As equally common, this method is called shifting farming which consists in burning a piece of land so that the ashes fertilise the soil. Then the famer grows its crops for around 2 to 5 years, until the soil’s fertility starts to decrease so he moves to another place repeating the same process.

After a break more or less long 10 years, the farmer can go back to the first place as the terrain supposedly had time to regain its fertility and he can so for cultivate his crops again. In fact, the material and gears used, plus the methods are much different one from another. Within the subsistence one, natural fertilizers will be more likely to be used while on the intensive one, chemicals and heavy machinery often take the lead. These different strategies used to manage the soil comprise advantages and disadvantages, to both the farmers and the land.

The sustainable farming strategy is on the short term less beneficial to the farmer as it will limit his production. But this technique won’t make any harm to the soil because the method used is less intensive, and natural fertilisers such as animal rejections and organic wastes replace chemicals and fertilizers used in the intensive method. But as stated above, India is the fourth largest agricultural force on this planet and that’s when the management of the soil starts becoming problematic in accordance to its sustainability and the preservation of its quality.

The choice of a farmer to opt for a specific technique rather than another relies on the income on a short period of time. Even though in India this choice mainly depends on the financial resources available, the farmers using subsistence farming will be able to use their land for a much longer period of time than those who use intensive farming. It’s also in the farmer’s benefit to use its field in a sustainable way; for environmental ssues as well as for its personal profit as on the longer term, a farmer who farms on its land in a sustainable way will be able to get an equal amount of crops over a larger period of time. To conclude, if we keep abusing the soil as they still do in certain parts of the world, by 2050 we will severely lack of available healthy soil to satisfy our needs as a result of the population’s growth rate. And even though the governments and citizens didn’t realise that before severe issues and frightening statistical data came out from the topic.

We know how to prevent soil erosion from natural factors by simply planting grass or other clumping vegetation; building shelter belts and hedgerows are other examples. We can also improve the methods of cultivation, using the techniques of terracing and contour ploughing. But to prevent the abusing human activity like deforestation, I believe that the only answer is the willing and devotion of individuals of using proper pesticides and fertilizers.

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