Indian Institute of Soil Science Indian Institute of Soil Science

भाकृअनुप-भारतीय मृदा विज्ञान संस्थान

ICAR-INDIAN INSTITUTE OF SOIL SCIENCE

From the Director's Desk .....

Healthy Soil for Sustaining Food and Human Security

Soil, the uppermost layer of the mantle of the earth has been formed over millions of year which helps in support and sustaining vast diversity of life. The stability of soil systems is controlled by their inherent balance between inputs and output of all the nutrients including carbon, the basic elemental building block required for life. Agricultural interventions in the past thousands of years, as a consequence of switch over from simple nomadic hunter gatherer life to intensive cultivation of land resulted in unprecedented exploitation of soil resources. In spite of achieving self-sufficiency in food grain production we need to produce more food from limited resources for more people from the available land resources (140 ± 2 m ha). However, over the last four to five decades, the health of soil is declining at faster rate with higher rates of soil erosion, declining factor productivity and nutrient use efficiency, loss of soil biota and degradation of land due to environmental pollution. Additionally, agricultural practices have also greatly altered balances of major nutrients, vizcarbon, nitrogen, phosphorus leading to climate change and environmental degradation of our ecosystem.

The UN General Assembly has officially recognized the 2015 as the International Year of Soils (IYS) and 2016 as International Year of Pulses (IYP). This has certainly generated greater awareness and attention about soilsto the general public at a global scale. Besides, soils and pulses- a symbiosis for life, which needs to be sustained in long run for sustainable exploitation of our fragile and limited soil resources of our planet earth. Hence, the soil science has become one of the core agricultural sciences to care of soil resources for the posterity. Infact, it is the diverse schools of physical, chemical, biological and environmental science, for which the ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Science (ICAR-IISS) is striving for with renewed efforts in research and development leading to improved soil productivity with minimal environmental degradation over the last two and half decades. Of late there were rapid strides in empirical and theoretical understanding of soil processes leading to societal well-being. However, there are greater challenges and opportunities exist with reference to maintaining the role of soil in food, climate change mitigation, and human security. The impending danger of dwindling fertilizer resources offers opportunities for novel partnerships to develop efficient methods of nutrient recycling and redistribution systems in present day scenario. Possibly the most challenging issues will be to improve the nutrient use efficiency of crops, better preservation of soil biota, in-depth understanding on the magnitude of global soil carbon cycle to climate change mitigation with minimal environmental losses. Hence, concerted efforts are not only required at national level but also at global level to sustain soil resources for food and human security. In this endeavor, ICAR-IISS always keen in addressing above said issues through itsthe significant achievements in research and technology dissemination to farmers.

Results generated through the long term trend of maize – chickpea system productivity under integrated plant nutrient supply modules, evaluation of modified urea materials and impact study of nanoparticles based fertilizers on crop growth have indicated the improved nutrient use efficiency and enhanced crop yield. Also, the study on the effect of conservation agricultural practices has emphasized its relevance in sustaining SOC and crop yield of maize, soybean, chickpea and wheat. Besides, preliminary assessment of soil properties of Vertisols using mid-infra-red (MIR) spectroscopy has been done using prediction models, which will be validated in due course of time. Metagenomic diversity of microbes in the composting system have been analyzed. Bioremediation potential of cotton for heavy metals and microbial solubilization of P from rock phosphate was also evaluated. In commemoration of IYS 2015 and IYP 2016, several training cum awareness programs, kisansangosthi were organized for students, farmers and development functionaries of state department at the institute as well as at various districts of M.P. with the theme “Sustainable soil health and INM for better crop productivity; “Soils and pulses-a symbiosis for life”. Several awards and honours have also been bestowed on the scientists of this Institute for their exemplary work during this period. Indeed, the Institute is keen in continuing its best efforts to care and sustain soil resources for food and human security.

Dr. Ashok K. Patra

 
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