Tuesday, 11 July 2006

The Sand Land Soil System and Society.

Ramez A. Mahjoory, Michigan State University, Institute of International Agriculture, Agr. Hall, East Lansing, MI 48864

Worldwide, arid soils such as Latterites from African Savannas to the Xeralfs and Xererts of the Mediterranian Basin, Ortents and Orthids of Asian Deserts are uniquely different in their strategic roles for utilizing the land in places where a delicate balance between annual climatic cycles and general trends toward desertification predominate. Arid lands cover 1/3 of global land surface and contain irreplaceable natural resources with potential productivity of meeting the demands for higher standards of living for more than two billion people while also seving the sources and sinks of atmospheric CO2. The soils in these arid areas are being degraded due to adverse natural and anthropogenic activities and also are underutilized and kept in a stage of obliviousness due to inadequate public literacy and most importantly, in-sufficient scientific evaluations of the soil system. Implementation of sustainable development programs and food security projects on randomly selected sites and assessment of land degradation by powerful computers and satellite imagery techniques without coupling with field work are data producing and grant attracting but, counter- productive because of non- recognition of representative soils, based on pedology standards and incomplete soil taxonomy information. We live in a world in which there is an order out there and things are precisely measured and categorized for efficient utilization. Why not the soils, mainly in arid areas ? How we could generalize the world of soils under our feet by concept of soils are the same? Expansion of educational programs, quantification of multiple ecosystems within the arid regions through detailed and correlated studies of soils on an applicable scale can provide opportunities for land users to diversify agro-eco systems and for designers of food security and environmental programs to establish project sites on well defined Representative Soil Units in each region. This, would enable soil scientists to extrapolate the results of their studies and promote national productivity and regional economy. Otherwise, all nations would inevitably pursue a self-destructive cause of fueling their economies by consuming their capital, by degrading natural ecosystems and accelerating the depletion of their most valuable natural resources. Answering to these questions and coping with tsunami of others on the occasion of this 18th World Congress of Soil Science should rely on our good conscience and exercise of professional responsibilities in a way that hunger shall last no longer.

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