Agriculture Bytes | VOL.12, ISSUE 73 JULY-AUGUST 2012 |

Land Degradation

Land is said to be degraded when the soil suffers from decline or loss in its productive capacity. It is estimated that one-sixth of the world’s soils has already been degraded by water and wind erosion. This has two important consequences: a) the reduced ability of society to produce sufficient food due to loss of quality and depth of soils and b) pollution associated with erosion. Siltation of dams, pollution of water courses by agricultural chemicals and damage to property by soil laden runoff reduces the productive capacity of land.  In India, the total geographical area is about 328.73 million hectares of which 146.82 million hectares are degraded (State of Environment Report, India 2009, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India), because of serious soil erosion through ravine and gully, shifting cultivation, cultivated wastelands, sandy areas, deserts and water logging. Soil erosion by rain and river takes place in hilly areas causing landslide and floods – exacerbated further by deforestation, use of timber; overgrazing over and above the carrying capacity of grass lands; traditional agricultural practices and construction of roads etc.

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