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Facultatea de Zootehnie si Biotehnologii

USAMV Cluj-Napoca

The Soil
Nume: Gherman
Prenume: Ioan Catalin
An: I
Specializarea: Biotehnologii Agricole
Soil Degradation
Globally, 2 billion hectares have been degraded
since World War II
23% of globally used land
Most degradation in Asia, South Africa and Central

1. loss of topsoil from water erosion
2. fertility decline
M. Kropac
Global status of human-induced soil degradation

Very high severity

High severity

Moderate severity

Low severity

Stable Land, Ice Caps or

non-used wasteland

Soil conservation
In lands used for agriculture and other human activities, fertile soil needs
soil conservation practices to keep the fertility on the same level.
Activities that would fall under this category are:
prevention of nutrient depletion by rotating crops and using compost
(which we get from sanitised faeces..!)
erosion prevention
salinity management
Fertile soil has the following properties:
rich in nutrients necessary for basic plant nutrition, including nitrogen,
phosphorus and potassium
contains sufficient minerals (trace elements) for plant nutrition, including
boron, chlorine, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium,
molybdenum, sulfur, and zinc
contains soil organic matter that improves soil structure and soil moisture
soil pH is in the range 6.0 to 6.8 for most plants
good soil structure, creating well drained soil, but some soils are wetter
(for rice) or drier (as for producing plants susceptible to fungi or rot such
as agave)
range of microorganisms that support plant growth
often contains large amounts of topsoil
Parameters of soil fertility
A fertile soil

Soil fertility is influenced by the soils

physical, biological and chemical
characteristics, e.g.
organic matter content
water-holding capacity
cation exchange capacity
What influences the cost of fertiliser?

Supply and demand! Demand has gone up because:

Farmers are starting to produce bio-fuels on agricultural land (e.g. ethanol,
rape in US and Europe)
Increasing demand for meat (e.g. from China), therefore more wheat is
required to feed the lifestock
Costs of transport
Transport distance (imported or produced locally)
Type of transport (problem for land-locked countries without good
transport infrastructure)
Rising fuel prices
Cost of natural gas (methane) which is used to make ammonia
Supply will be shortened as phosphate is running out

Some basic facts about
inorganic fertilisers
Ammonia (NH3) synthesis is the basis for N fertiliser production (Haber-Bosch process: nitrogen is obtained from
the air, hydrogen is obtained from water and natural gas in steam reforming an energy intensive process)
End product is ammonium nitrate, the most important nitrogen fertiliser in Europe
Exploitable reserves of phosphate rock are predicted to run out in about 100 years! (P is a non-renewable resource
see Part C)
Low-income countries:
Inorganic fertilisers usually imported
Recently, rising cost due to rising energy prices (for manufacture and transport)
Thank you for your