Soil Biodiversity Current Affairs - 2020

February 19: Soil Health Card Day

In order to commemorate the launch of Soil Health Card Scheme, the GoI is marking Soil Health Card Day on February 19, 2020. The Soil Health Card Scheme was launched by PM Modi on February 19, 2015.

Objectives

The Scheme was launched in 2015 to evaluate soil fertility. It was introduced to issue soil health cards every two years. The aim of the scheme is to promote soil test in order to promote nutrient management.

Need

The deterioration of physical, chemical and biological health of the soil is considered as one of the main reasons for decline in agricultural productivity in the country. The soils are currently holding negative nutrient balance. This is to increase in the future and will decline the fertilizer response of the crop. Therefore, it is essential to improve the soil health.

Soil Health-Other Measures

Soil Health Management

The Soil Health Management under taken by GoI under the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture strengthens soil testing laboratories, establishes bio-fertilizers and compost units, demonstrations and trainings on balanced use of fertilizers.

Nutrient Based Subsidy

The Nutrient based Subsidy scheme promoted fortified and customized fertilizers. Under the scheme so far 21 fertilizers have been included. The scheme aims at balanced use of fertilizers in order to maintain soil health.

Development of Model Village

In the year 2019-20, the Development of Model Village project was taken up. Under the scheme, the soil samples were collected from individual farmers rather than collecting from a cluster.

Success of Soil Health Card

In 2017, the National Productivity Council said that the Soil Health Card Scheme promoted sustainable farming. This led to decrease in use of fertilizer application by 8 to 10%. Also, the overall yield of crops increased by 5%. This major improvement was mainly due to application of fertilizers based on recommendations of soil health cards.

5 years of Soil Health Card

Recently the Soil Health Card Scheme completed 5 years of success. Being launched at Suratgarh, Rajasthan to improve health of the soil, the card provides information about the nutrient status of the soil to the farmers.

Since its launch, 110 crore soil cards have been issued.

India among nations that face grave danger to soil biodiversity: WWF

According to recently released Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas prepared by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), India among nations that face grave danger to soil biodiversity. The atlas was released as part of WWF’s biennial Living Planet Report (LPR) 2018. The key aspect of this year’s report was threat to soil biodiversity and pollinators, the two key drivers of biodiversity. These two key drivers loss were due to over exploitation of natural resources and agriculture.

Highlights of report

  • Soil Biodiversity: It encompasses presence of micro-organisms, micro-fauna (nematodes and tardigrades for example), and macro-fauna (ants, termites and earthworms).
  • Millions of microbial and animal species live and make up soils, from bacteria and fungi to mites, beetles and earthworms. Soil biodiversity, thus is total community from genes to species, and varies depending on environment.
  • The immense diversity in soil allows for great variety of ecosystem services that benefit species that inhabit it, the species that use it and its surrounding environment.
  • WWF’s ‘risk index’ for globe: It indicated threats from loss of above-ground diversity, pollution and nutrient over-loading, over-grazing, intensive agriculture, fire, soil erosion, desertification and climate change.
  • India was coloured red on atlas and is among countries whose soil biodiversity faces the highest level of risk. Other countries in this category include Pakistan, China, several countries in Africa and Europe, and most of North America.

  • India’s per capita ecological footprint: It was less than 1.75 hectares/person (it is in lowest band among countries surveyed). India’s high population made it vulnerable to ecological crisis, even if per-capita consumption remained at current levels.
  • Pollinators: 150 million bee colonies were needed to meet the pollination requirements of about 50 million hectares of agricultural land in India, only 1.2 million colonies were present.
  • Ecological loss: Population of fish, mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles has dwindled by average of 60% from 1970 to 2014 and fresh-water species have declined by 83% in same period. Globally, extent of wetlands os estimated to have declined by 87% since 1970.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

It is international non-governmental organization working field of the wilderness preservation and reduction of human impact on the environment. It was formerly named World Wildlife Fund. It is world’s largest conservation organization with over five million supporters worldwide, working in more than 100 countries, supporting around 1,300 conservation and environmental projects. It founded in 1961 and is headquartered in Gland, Switzerland. WWF aims to stop degradation of planet’s natural environment and build future in which humans live in harmony with nature. Currently, its work is organized around these six areas: food, climate, freshwater, wildlife, forests, and oceans. It publishes Living Planet Report every two years since 1998 and it is based on Living Planet Index and ecological footprint calculation.