Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: May 5, 2011
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Soil degradation is a complex process and directly affects the physical, chemical and biological processes within the soil profile. Degradation processes can be linked to changes in the physical structure of the soil directly affecting the infiltration of water and movement of gases, while the chemical processes are related to changes in nutrient cycling and availability. Biological processes directly affect the microbial activity and these processes are associated with the decomposition of organic material in the soil. Throughout the world, soils have been degraded by erosion, tillage, and removal of crop residues and are rapidly losing their ability to efficiently produce a crop without large inputs of nutrients and water. Reversal of the degradation process is possible through reduction in tillage intensity and careful management of the crop residues to return organic matter to the soil. Evidence from all areas of the world shows that this approach has a major benefit on the soil and over time will increase soil quality and resilience to climatic stresses. A healthy soil is the foundation of a sustainable agricultural system and our future food security depends upon our ability to increase food production.