Soil health management under hill agroecosystem of North East India - A paper from the journal Applied and Environmental Soil Science

This paper describes the impacts of environmental degradation on soil quality and health in the North East of India

The paper published in the journal Applied and Environmental Soil Science discusses the need for a viable option for ecorestoration and maintenance of soil resources to sustain long-term soil productivity and improve food security for the region.

The paper informs that the North Eastern parts of India, namely the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura are characterised by diverse agroclimatic and geographical situations with a majority i.e. 54.1 per cent of the total geographical area being under forests, 16.6 per cent under crops, and the rest either under nonagricultural uses or uncultivated land.

The area under agriculture tends to be very low because of the physiographic features of the region with the land having more than 15 per cent slope, undulating topography, highly eroded and degraded soils, and inaccessible terrain. Continuous dilution of the forest cover in the region due to shifting cultivation, firewood, and timber collection is posing a serious threat resulting in poor soil health and environmental degradation in the hills.

The paper argues that there is a need to devise a comprehensive forest policy as a long-term strategy in the region for sustainability and augmentation of food, fuel, fodder, and timber requirements to reduce this degradation. For this, agroforestry coupled with sound resource conservation techniques need to be strengthened for long-term sustainable production and environmental conservation in the fragile ecosystem, which will contribute to improved food security and income generation for resource poor farmers and protect the environment.

The paper argues that Integrated farming system (IFS) has emerged as a well accepted, single window, and sound strategy for harmonizing simultaneously joint management of land, water, vegetation, livestock, and human resources. The IFS developed for hill areas could reduce the risk of soil degradation, produce the soils productive potential, and reduce the risks of environmental degradation. Besides, these interventions having a tree crop with a high quality of leaf litter and root binding ability reduce erodibility of rainfall/runoff and improve the physicochemical conditions. Attempts should also be made to manage soil health through addition of organic inputs in this region.

A copy of the paper can be accessed at this link

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