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Soil is a non-renewable resource

By Loraine D. Cerillo - Project Development Officer II
September 09, 2015

There are more living individual organisms in a tablespoon of soil than there are people on earth. So, it is true that the soil is teeming with life, literally. One of the major functions of the soils that has a major contribution to a man's health are the antibiotics that we take to help us fight infections that were obtained from the soil microorganisms. The soil that we almost taken for granted is actually the basis of our agro-ecosystems that provide us food, fiber, feed and fuel that we need daily for our survival.

The Challenge

We are about to face a big challenge in the year 2050 for it is expected that the booming population will exceed up to 150 million in the Philippines. As the population continues to grow, the demand for the goods and food will also increase. The real challenge is the ability of our country to produce a healthier and nutritious food and to increase agricultural production by 100 percent to sustain the growing demand of our people.

Along with this challenge is a decreasing number of students that lack interest in studying soil science. Soil science provides an understanding of how soil properties relate to and can be managed for optimal agricultural production, forest, range, and wetland management, urban land use, waste disposal and management, and reclamation of drastically disturbed sites, such as mines. Soil science addresses nutrient management, sustainable agriculture, global biogeochemical cycles and climate change, ecosystem structure and function,or nuclear waste disposal and management,among many others ( The sharp decline in the number of enrolees in agriculture in the Philippines for the last few decades is considered as a threat to the country’s food security and production yields. Nowadays, soils are under pressure of intensification and competing uses of forestry, cropping, pasture and urbanization.

Our Soils Today

The country’s soil resource is the portal for food production and 50.64 percent of the rural people in the Philippines are dependent to the land for their livelihood and to dig deeper on the current land situation, there is a little opportunity for the expansion of arable lands in the country. Based on the recent conducted study, 11.4 million hectares or 38 percent of the Philippine soil is moderately to highly degraded because of erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification, chemical pollution and nutrient depletion. With the given threats to the soils, soil erosion is the most common type of land degradation, affecting the soil physico-chemical and biological properties, rendering the land less or unproductive for crop production. These problems relating to soils can hamper its functions and will affect the food production. In addition, 2.6 million hectares are in advanced state of land degradation.

How to save of Soils?

First we have to love our soils because we can never replace it with another. Imagine that the soils cover just 6 percent of the Earth's land surface and there is an existing huge number of degraded land areas. This is basically our individual call to help.

The government has initiatives in saving our soils for a broader approach that includes:
  • Development and intensifying policies and governance;
  • Conducting soil research;
  • Organization of effective education and extension programmes;
  • Investment in sustainable soil management;
  • Stopping soil degradation and restoring degraded soils and;
  • Establishment of the soil information systems.

Sustainable soil management should also be observed in saving our soils. The increase in soil organic matter content improves soil structure, reduces soil erosion, provides microbial habitats, and serves as a source of long-term, slow-release nutrients. The Philippines is one of the leading countries that practice organic farming under the Organic Agriculture Program of the Department of Agriculture.

In keeping a sustainable soil management, it is important to keep soil surface vegetated, proper usage of nutrients and to promote crop rotations. These practices can lead to an average crop yield increase of 58 percent.

Agriculture is the only essential industry on earth and soil is a non-renewable resource that we have to protect and shield. Let us be reminded that the healthier our soils, the healthier our lives will be.

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