Main content area

Soils for sustaining global food production

Blum, W.E.H., Eswaran, H.
Journal of food science 2004 v.69 no.2 pp. CRH37
soil, soil-plant interactions, soil texture, textural soil types, geographical distribution, food production, agricultural land, soil quality, food security, land management, soil properties, poverty, developing countries
Soil is commonly described as the mantle or the skin covering the landmass of planet Earth. Soils perform 6 main functions (biomass production, water quality maintenance, biological habitat, physical infrastructure support, raw materials for human use, and maintaining cultural heritage) and a soil is evaluated by its ability to perform one or more of these functions. The ability of the land to feed and clothe people and to maintain ecological functions is being impeded by demographics. The global land area that is generally free of constraints for most agricultural uses is about 12.6%. Agricultural land, however, is unequally spread around the globe with a larger portion in the temperate countries of the world. In addition to poorer land quality in tropical regions, land degradation is also well entrenched, thus aggravating food security. There are 11.9 million km2 of such lands and about 1.4 billion people are involved and most of these areas are in the developing countries. Countries of the developing parts of the world have to make a conscious decision to better manage their land resources. The paradigm shift that poorer countries need to make to sustain food production is to implement holistic and sustainable land management programs by adopting technologies that have already been validated in other parts of the world.