Bipin Bihari Mishra, Professor (Full), Pedology, School of Environmental Sciences, Haramaya University, Ethiopia.
  Work Culture-Soil Science Professionals
 
Science
is the key to a system to exploit and that too for the welfare of mankind.
Alternatively, it is about testing the ideas against evidence. As more and more
evidence come to existence we can have more and more confidence that brings us nearer
to the truth. Truth may be thus the balance of evidence. Sometimes, what we
feel is presumably our truth, but lacks evidence. One often becomes conscious
of his unconscious workings of brain that may produce some interesting designs.
One example is the Ouchi Illusion (Fig 1) where static lines give the
impression of motion. As a soil scientist, I see a soil, just as a strange but
full of wisdom that needs to be discovered in whatever ways and means one does
have. Most often, we
are ignoring soil because we are trampling by our feet and its possession is
found beneath the feet. In true sense, soil covers an arena of complete
science, but how ? Let’s think on
well-articulated system research to know the
soil in more comprehensive dimension, since r
esearch is the
systematic process of collecting and analyzing information or data-set in order
to increase our understanding of the phenomenon about which we are either
concerned or interested.

Soil is the soul of
infinite lives. It is foundation for survival and nourishment of these lives.
Soil has its origin, its growth and its end. It is natural and takes several
years to grow, develop, mature, reform and transform or even erode.
Soil can not be a waste unless it is washed. It is not renewable and manufactured. It
is a resource and so, subject to  production that necessitates site-specific
management techniques. It works in critical zone concept
(surface-rhizosphere-underground) and influences three basic needs of life viz.
ecosystem, food and water. It needs a total system management skill, but surely
it lacks the acceptable work culture within the framework of soil science; for
which global mandate needs to be developed, accepted and practiced in order to
attain soil sustainability.




Soil belongs to an open system in its environment both natural
as well as synthetic/artificial. Before testing the top surface soil, one has
to move to (a) evaluate the soil (pedon) for deciding its potential
productivity/capability (b) identify the associated limitations
(correctable/non-correctable) and their improvement through locally available
inputs (c) fix suitability of land use choice in a specific set (crop rotation
in case of agronomical crops) and lastly (d) decide the fertility level of soil
and recommend how much particular nutrients is applied in the most preferred ways
to enhance the nutrient use efficiencies and so. This is the mandatory
responsibility (often I used to say "work culture") of a soil
scientist, wherein all soil related prescriptions are made available in the
form of a written document covering all pedogenic, physical, chemical,
biochemical, nutritional, pathologic, microbilogic and biodiversity issues. I
believe on system approach to tell about the soil health.
Management of a soil
to overall restoration of soil health must not be in isolation, but it necessitates
integration after due evaluation in line
with above modes of prescription. In spite of being so important for
livelihood, soil is still not well respected.
Most unfortunately, the soil science is
being replaced by Natural Resource Management even in ICAR system and it is
indicator of decline in realization of the importance of soil science. FAO has
published commendable soil research works on land evaluation and suitability
identification, but the same is seldom followed particularly in India.


 A soil with full prescriptions being provided within the above
work culture by soil science professional may then be transferred to
Agronomist, Horticulturalist or Farm Manager or farmers, who could simply
follow the said prescriptions and management options within the recommended
package of practices for given crops or plantation. Soil science in management
terms thus obeys a very specific work culture that needs to be accepted to
implement.


Texture (sand, silt &
clay) forms the soil skeleton, while water is blood to give an identity to soil
in its physical, chemical, microbiological and photopedogenic environment
congenial for plant growth. Both pedology and edaphology, to cover whole soil
concept (Fig 2), need to be critically monitored on regular basis to maintain
sustainability. However, Indian system of soil classification is a long pending
demand that is to be accomplished as early as possible. The GIS inputs may work
purposefully in mapping a classified soil. Incoming solar radiation works to
energize the soil in different manners as outlined qualitatively in
photopedogenesis. Importantly, there is substantial
scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many
beneficial effects upon natural plant and animal environments (
http://www.petitionproject.org/).rth

A comparative data on composition of earth and earth crust (Fig 3) indicate wide variation, which may further be compared with soils to get a comprehensive knowledge that is influenced by surrounding climate and environment.



Based on some report, 35.7
billion tons of carbon dioxide entered the earth’s atmosphere in 2012 alone.
Some of this green house gas is absorbed by oceans, plants and soil and provide
a significant reservoir of carbon. Scientists are of the opinion that the
capacity of the soil to absorb carbon dioxide has to be reassessed. However, to
sequester C in soil, we have to find a balance between the carbon getting fixed
by terrestrial vegetation and the C losses to atmosphere as CO2 by
respiration. Carbon in soil can be stored if they are protected against
microbial degradation. Such protection is provided by formation of clay humus
complexes. Thus, clay science needs to be prioritized and promoted more than
ever before in order to quantifying various modes of identification,
interactions and reaction products that could be easily understandable in soil
science. Clays work as the true heart of a soil and are instrumental in soil
management options.


Soil microorganisms (suitable and effective
including VAM on organic source)
are the major component of
biogeochemical nutrient cycling and global fluxes of CO2, CH4,
and N. The world’s soils are estimated to contain twice as much carbon as the
atmosphere, making them one of the largest sinks for atmospheric CO2
and organic carbon. Humus
in soils is widely accepted for improving soil health and increasing plant
growth. To obtain humus with all the desired properties stimulating plant
growth, many processes are involved beginning with addition of plant material
to soils. Soil health is improved by the complete soil carbon cycle.
 Soil organic matter is
carbon compounds in various stages of decay. In the soil, organic matter is the
part of a dynamic, living carbon cycle. The living carbon cycle is very
important in maintaining the soil health. Many living creatures, microorganisms
and small soil animals eat dead plant material, eat each other and eat the
faeces of living organisms too. All such activities add to the fertility and
health of soils. Let’s thus conclude what is more important, the product or the
process?




Electropedo-culture covering electricity,
magnetism
, monochromatic light and sound
is somewhat little known technology that has shown ability to protect
disease, insect, pest and enhance the use efficiency of fertilizer as well as
pesticide even. Similarly, nano-technology in clay mineralogy is being used for
better exploitation of clays.


 The soil shrinkage due to non-farming activities
or even construction works is an  alarming policy issue. In some survey report of
the Directorate of Statistics and Evaluation, Government of Bihar, for example,
an area of 0.73 Mha of the agriculturally productive land in Bihar was used for
non-farming activities between 1970 and 1975 (in five years), while 1.62 Mha
land was recorded to be put to non-agricultural use by the end of 1999-2000. Thus,
the land shrinkage towards non-agricultural use was 20.26% of the total cropped
area (7.995 Mha) of a densely populated state of India within 25 years. Such
shrinkage (sealing) is irreversible causing huge losses in grain production as
well as ecological imbalance in a big way and there must be some suitable legal
ban against such practice. Today, the option of horizontal production is
virtually impracticable and whole of such options truly rest on vertical
production, which is surrounded with known and unknown challenges following a
decline in partial factor productivity of a given soil. The simplest way to
minimize the challenges associated with factor productivity as well as climate
change is to adopt and popularize the true conservation agriculture by keeping
the land covered with vegetation and/or crop residues round the year with least
or zero tillage following the basic principles in order to restore the biodiversity
and pedo-ecosystems. However, the principles of organic farming should
preferably be imposed for success in conservation agriculture. This is the true
Mantra of sustainable agriculture.
 
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