Soil Health Management – NMSA, Soil Health Card, etc.

Radioactive Cesium Technology for measuring Soil Erosion

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the technology

Mains level : Preventing Soil Erosion

  • Indian scientists have now developed a method to measure the rate of soil erosion and associated decrease in organic content in soil by assessing levels of radioactive cesium in soil.

Radioactive Cesium Technology

  • Researchers at the ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Dehradun have developed a way to monitor soil erosion and decrease in carbon content in soil by relating it with levels of radioactive cesium in soil.
  • Carbon concentration is soil correlates with levels of isotope of cesium.
  • Different sites were found to have varying levels of cesium pointing at different degrees of soil degradation in different sites.
  • By applying various formulas, the cesium loss was then used to calculate erosion and associated carbon loss in soil.
  • For measuring cesium levels in soil, gamma spectroscopy technique was used.

Benefits of this technique

  • Radioactive cesium technology is a more rapid and less expensive method for soil erosion studies in the severely intensive croplands.
  • It gives more accurate results for all types of erosion studies including historic, comparative and long-term soil and soil organic carbon erosion.
  • This method can help in monitoring the effects of soil erosion and effectiveness of soil conservation strategies.

Why monitor Soil Erosion?

  • Soil supports plants, insects and microbial life and is formed by natural forces over a long period of time.
  • Carbon reaches soil through the microbial action on withering plant parts and remains in soil, changing its physio-chemical properties and also enhancing its fertility.
  • This way soil also sequesters carbon helping in regulating carbon levels in the atmosphere.
  • Soil erosion, which involves disaggregation and displacement of soil, leads to decrease in its organic content and eventually its fertility.
  • Natural and human activities are contributing to soil erosion and posing problems for both food production and climate change.
  • Therefore, monitoring of soil erosion induced-carbon loss from soil is important.
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