The Nigerian Institute of Soil Science has cautioned against excessive use of inorganic materials on soil to increase yields, pointing out that soil nutrients are not simply replaced when a natural resource is depleted.
Prof Charles Asadu, the NISS South-East Zonal Coordinator, issued the warning on Sunday during a briefing to commemorate this year’s World Soil Day, which has the subject ‘Halt Soil Salinization, Boost Soil Production’.
Asadu testified that the principal soil concerns farmers in the South-East zone and agricultural extension agents had documented over the years were soil acidity, low-average soil nutrient levels, indiscriminate bush burning, flooding, and soil erosion, all of which resulted in low yields.
While NISS was committed to maintaining appropriate soil management for sustainable agricultural production and food and nutrition security in Nigeria, he stated that carbon preservation was vital to keep soil active and capable of performing its tasks for agricultural productivity and human existence.
“Soil salinization and sodification are major soil degradation processes threatening the ecosystem and are recognised as being among the most important problems at a global level for agricultural production, food security and sustainability in arid and semi-arid regions.
“The 2021 world soil day celebration is targeted at raising awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy ecosystem and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, fighting soil salinisation, increasing soil awareness and encouraging societies to improve soil health.
“NISS is an agency under the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development, with the mandate of regulating the profession of soil science in Nigeria as well as providing a scientific basis for enhancing and sustaining productivity of soil resources with minimal environmental degradation especially with regards to food production in the country,” he said.
According to the professor of soil science, “according to information from southeast farmers and extension agents, the zone’s and Nigeria’s key soil concerns include soil acidity, low-average soil nutrient levels, indiscriminate bush burning, flooding, and soil erosion, among others.”
He urged farmers and other land users, however, to always seek professional counsel from their zonal office, noting that the zonal office is responsible for coordinating the institute’s work at the grass-roots level.
“Farmers and other land users in the South-East should take the advantage of what we offer at the office because with good knowledge about how soil could be managed will help in addressing the challenges of ensuring food security,” he said.