The natural resource, soil, is the thin layer of organic and inorganic materials that covers the Earth’s rocky surface. Soil formation involves a large number of factors and is a time taking process. Mechanical weathering of rocks due to temperature changes, wind, moving water, lichens are a few of the contributing factors.
Pollutants like toxic compounds, radioactive materials, salts, chemicals, when added to the soil, deteriorate the quality, texture and mineral content of the soil. This leads to soil pollution. Soil pollutants disturb the biological balance of the organisms in the soil. The adverse effect of this contamination is reduced soil fertility affecting plant and animal growth.
Major causes of soil pollution are:
- Random use of fertilizers
- Random use of pesticides, insecticides and herbicides
- Disposal of large quantities of solid waste
- Deforestation and soil erosion
- Addition of industrial contaminants
- Dumping of radioactive wastes
Control of soil pollution
Various steps suggested in order to control soil pollution are as follows:
Reducing chemical fertilizer and pesticide use:
As the soil erosion has become a major cause of concern we need to adopt the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle in order to minimize the usage of fertilizers and pesticides.
Biofertilizers are the best alternatives for chemical fertilizers. They are microorganisms which are used to increase the fertility and growth capacity of soil. This process of Biofertilization also reduces the need for pesticides and fungicides.
Practice of crop rotation – Leguminous plants can fix atmospheric nitrogen and hence enhance the soil fertility. These plants can be grown in between the crops which absorb a lot of soil nutrients.
Recycling of materials
Recycling and reusing of materials such as glass containers, plastic bags, paper, cloth etc. at domestic levels rather than disposing, reduces the solid waste pollution. Use of plastic bags has increased drastically. Paper bags or jute bags can be a good alternative for them. Toys made up of clay can be a good source of amusement for kids. A complete ban on the use of plastics is advisable.
Wastelands, soil erosion and floods can be controlled by reforestation. Huge forests have become prey to man’s greed. It takes years together to reform a forest. Every individual on earth should decide to plant trees to save our planet earth.
Treatment of waste
Biological treatment of the waste using anaerobic microorganisms, such as methanogens and acetogens is advisable as it helps to break down the soil wastes into a less toxic and biodegradable form. Industrial and radioactive wastes should be properly treated before leaving them to soil.
It is high time the man realizes the importance of the rich top soil and takes necessary steps to protect it from pollutants. Soil is an asset and there is no substitute for this. Wide stretches of desserts created by human beings are laughing at us. When we cannot create tanks and tanks of natural fertile soil should we not stop destroying it?