Healthy soils for productive and resilient agricultural landscapes
This brief (PDF) by the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) and IWMI assesses the impacts of various land restoration initiatives and discusses a range of tools to better tailor and target investments and interventions to local contexts. Healthy soils are essential for productive and resilient agricultural systems, and they are a means to mitigate climate change risks. The prevalence of soil and land degradation requires significant action both to predict and prevent degradation, and to restore soil quality. The following recommendations are given: 1) Carefully target soil and land management challenges and solutions to suit local conditions: New assessment and monitoring tools help identify where soil fertility problems are most severe and target appropriate interventions for maintaining or increasing organic matter and improving soil fertility. 2) Encourage farmer investments in land and soil management practices through incentive mechanisms: Subsidies, reward mechanisms, and linking natural resource management interventions with market opportunities and income-generating activities can both improve soil health and create benefits for individuals and society in general. 3) Support a circular economy: Bring otherwise ‘wasted’ nutrients back into the agricultural production cycle through tested mechanisms to convert domestic and agricultural waste into safe, nutrient-rich fertilizer. 4) Move away from reactive restoration efforts and adopt preventive approaches: New information resources on soil and land conditions and management options can facilitate more proactive approaches to maintain soil and land health and reverse degradation risks.