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Promoting the use of isotopic techniques to combat soil erosion: An overview of the key role played by the SWMCN Subprogramme of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division over the last 20 years

Mabit, Lionel, Bernard, Claude, Lee Zhi Yi, Amelia, Fulajtar, Emil, Dercon, Gerd, Zaman, Mohammad, Toloza, Arsenio, Heng, Lee
Land degradation & development 2018 v.29 no.9 pp. 3077-3091
Food and Agriculture Organization, agricultural development, carbon, cesium, climate-smart agriculture, developing countries, energy, food safety, food security, land management, nutrition, radionuclides, research projects, soil, soil erosion, stable isotopes, water management, Madagascar, Morocco, Vietnam
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), through the Joint Division with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, assists its Member States in applying nuclear techniques to alleviate challenges in food safety, food security and sustainable agricultural development. The Soil and Water Management & Crop Nutrition (SWMCN) Subprogramme, within the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture, has made significant contributions to the development of isotopic techniques for the assessment of soil degradation and the development of efficient soil and land conservation approaches. These techniques include fallout radionuclides such as ¹³⁷Cs, ²¹⁰Pbₑₓ, ⁷Be, and ²³⁹⁺²⁴⁰Pu as well as ¹³C stable isotope and compound‐specific stable isotope analyses. These methodologies were developed and/or refined through the work of researchers from developed and developing countries who were selected to work within the frame of IAEA's Coordinated Research Projects (CRPs). Internal research activities implemented in the Joint FAO/IAEA's SWMCN Laboratory in Seibersdorf supported the work accomplished in the CRPs. The methodologies thus developed have been subsequently disseminated to developing countries by IAEA's Technical Cooperation Programme to assist Member States to adopt climate‐smart agriculture and reduce soil degradation that poses a threat to food security and the environment. This review paper provides an overview of the activities conducted in the frame of CRPs for combating soil erosion over the last 20 years and highlights the major achievements. Examples of the success and the impact obtained in Morocco, Madagascar, and Vietnam in using these isotopic techniques are presented.