Soil degradation causes a shrinking of arable land resources, and the persistence of starvation and malnutrition. The depletion is compounded by the increasing populations of developing tropical nations, and the conversion of agricultural land to other uses. As a result, per capita grain harvesting and irrigated land is in steady decline all over the world.
The decrease in horticultural resources and productivity has inspired Soil Quality and Agricultural Sustainability, which is based primarily on papers presented at the 1996 conference on soil degradation, sponsored by Ohio State University, the USAID and the International Agricultural Research Centers. The book addresses itself to six concerns: basic concepts and global issues, nutrient and water inputs, soil quality management in Asia, in Africa, and in the Tropical Americas, and future priorities.
The Editor's goal is a new paradigm in soil quality research: a multidisciplinary approach. He proposes that an erosion management program include soil scientists, hydrologists, climatologists, sedimentologists, geographers, agronomists, agricultural engineers, land use planners, economists, anthropologists and social scientists. Lal advocates an optimistic, forward-thinking brand of soil science that concentrates on conservation and fertility.
The 26 chapters explore what Lal considers to be the priorities: agricultural sustainability, soil quality, food security, quality restoration, long-term management, and the failure to adopt new technology. In sum, they paint a comprehensive portrait of the current state, and future prospects, for worldwide agronomic viability.