A small group of farmers gathered solemnly in Kanniwadi in south Tamil Nadu, to take a pledge. The occasion – World Soil Day. As farmers, they knew only too well, the importance of soil for their life and livelihood and how the health of the soil determines the health of the plant. The pledge to protect soil health and natural resources included 50 men and women farmers, besides agriculture students and academicians.
In his statement for World Soil Day, Prof M S Swaminathan, Founder MSSRF said “Soil provides the foundation for our food and livelihood security systems. Soil health care needs integrated attention from a number of disciplines. I am therefore happy that the World Soil Day is observed in order to promote integrated attention to all aspects of soil productivity. Today therefore is important to ensure the future of our food, and livelihood security. I hope young people everywhere will particularly take interest in preparing and distributing soil health cards in villages. This will be a very important service for protecting soil security. It is particularly important to integrate gender dimension in soil health advisory service.”
MSSRF has been working for several years on soil conservation and agriculture. As early as in 2007, the Foundation began the mobile soil testing van concept, with a van that holds equipment to conduct soil and water analysis. An advantage of the van is that soil samples can be collected and analysed on the spot. Basic tests include testing for soil pH, soil electrical conductivity, and for available nutrient levels of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (NPK), which in most cases is sufficient for majority of farmers. With this facility the team analyses water used for irrigation.
On World Soil Day this year, Dr Balakrishnan, Principal of RVS College of Horticulture and Mr Devaraj, Coordinator of the programme from MSSRF created awareness to farmers and students on types and properties of soil, importance of soil health, organic matters and living organisms in the soil, influence of soil temperature and soil moisture in agriculture, how to replenish soil naturally through organic farming practices, afforestation and more.
On this occasion, Tamil Nadu Agriculture University students exhibited posters related to soil health management. Assistant professors Dr. Punithavathy (Extention), Dr. Rajasekaran (Floriculture), Ms. Krithika (Crop Physiology) from RVS College of Horticulture also attended the programme.
MSSRF and Agro Field Meteorological Unit (AMFU) at Kanniwadi organised this awareness programme for farmers and youth on soil health and its importance for sustainable agriculture and healthy ecosystems in the Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu under the Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa project (GKMS).