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Sustainability 2015, 7(5), 5875-5895; doi:10.3390/su7055875

Restoring Soil Quality to Mitigate Soil Degradation

The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Received: 31 March 2015 / Revised: 1 May 2015 / Accepted: 5 May 2015 / Published: 13 May 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Enhancing Soil Health to Mitigate Soil Degradation)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [2394 KB, uploaded 13 May 2015]   |  

Abstract

Feeding the world population, 7.3 billion in 2015 and projected to increase to 9.5 billion by 2050, necessitates an increase in agricultural production of ~70% between 2005 and 2050. Soil degradation, characterized by decline in quality and decrease in ecosystem goods and services, is a major constraint to achieving the required increase in agricultural production. Soil is a non-renewable resource on human time scales with its vulnerability to degradation depending on complex interactions between processes, factors and causes occurring at a range of spatial and temporal scales. Among the major soil degradation processes are accelerated erosion, depletion of the soil organic carbon (SOC) pool and loss in biodiversity, loss of soil fertility and elemental imbalance, acidification and salinization. Soil degradation trends can be reversed by conversion to a restorative land use and adoption of recommended management practices. The strategy is to minimize soil erosion, create positive SOC and N budgets, enhance activity and species diversity of soil biota (micro, meso, and macro), and improve structural stability and pore geometry. Improving soil quality (i.e., increasing SOC pool, improving soil structure, enhancing soil fertility) can reduce risks of soil degradation (physical, chemical, biological and ecological) while improving the environment. Increasing the SOC pool to above the critical level (10 to 15 g/kg) is essential to set-in-motion the restorative trends. Site-specific techniques of restoring soil quality include conservation agriculture, integrated nutrient management, continuous vegetative cover such as residue mulch and cover cropping, and controlled grazing at appropriate stocking rates. The strategy is to produce “more from less” by reducing losses and increasing soil, water, and nutrient use efficiency. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil resilience; climate change; soil functions; desertification; soil carbon sequestration soil resilience; climate change; soil functions; desertification; soil carbon sequestration
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Lal, R. Restoring Soil Quality to Mitigate Soil Degradation. Sustainability 2015, 7, 5875-5895.

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