By Ikechukwu Odu

The Nigeria Institute of Soil Science, NISS, on Saturday said efforts must be made to stop deforestation and bush burning to protect the soil from excessive evaporation and loss of organic matters needed for its health.

The South East Zonal Coordinator of NISS, Prof Charles Asadu, made this known in the university town of Nsukka, Enugu State while addressing the newsmen as part of the activities marking this year’s World Soil Day christened ‘Halt Soil Salinization, Boost Soil Productivity.’

Prof Asadu who attributed cases of erosion and flooding which cause both human and economic losses in South East to deforestation and bush burning, added that humans must develop soil-friendly dispositions to save the nation from food insecurity.

He said “Soil is a natural resource and we must take care of it because everything we eat for our survival and other basic needs of man come from the soil. The United Nations, UN and Food and Agricultural Organisation, FAO, consider this very important because toiling with the soil is like toiling with the life of the entire world.

“World Soil Day is celebrated to make people understand that soil is life.

“We should not predispose our soil to rainfall by deforestation and bush burning. In rural and urban areas, we build our houses in such a way that we don’t allow water to enter the soil thereby channelling it outside. This is the starting point of erosion.

“Bush burning exposes the soil to excessive evaporation because when the rain falls, it drops on it, washes away the particles and creates channels for erosion. Humans actually create this problem of erosion and flooding.

“I want farmers to know that they must not burn their farms during planting or throw away the residue from the farm after harvesting.”

While addressing the theme of this year’s World Soil Day, he said “Soil salinization and sodification are major soil degradation processes threatening ecosystem and are recognized as being among the most important problems at a global level of agricultural production, food security and sustainability in arid and semi-arid regions.

“World Soil Day 2021 and its campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, fighting soil salinization, increasing soil awareness and encouraging societies to improve soil health.

“Though soil salinization and sodification are not strictly soil problems in Nigeria except in some restricted dry areas in the north and around Lake Chad basin Nigerians should avoid deforestation because salinization and sodification are exacerbated by excessive evaporation especially in areas with high contents of salts in the soil,” he explained.

He listed major soil problems in Nigeria, particularly in South East to soil acidity, low-average soil nutrient (poor soil fertility), soil erosion. Others according him include poor soil structure and floods, adding that NISS is sponsoring trials in Enugu and Abia States to tackle the problems of acidic soils in the zone.

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