Soil quality action group pursues farm chemical ban

Soil quality action group pursues farm chemical ban

The Thai Soil Partnership (TSP) has vowed to pursue a ban on herbicides to improve soil health and agricultural practices.

The announcement by the TSP, representing a network of government, private, academic, religious, civil society and public sector groups against farm chemical use, was made to mark World Soil Day 2019 which fell last Thursday and was marked by an event held at Khao Cha Ngum Land Rehabilitation Project in Ratchaburi under the theme "Stop Soil Erosion, Save Our Future".

"We are aware of the importance of soil and water preservation in reducing land erosion and protecting the ecosystems and supporting sustainable soil management following the late King Bhumibol's philosophy," said Wiwat Salyakamthorn, World Soil Association chairman, who is leading the partnership.

He said the four key concepts of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great's philosophy involve disturbing the soil as little as possible, increasing diversity using crop rotation, keeping living roots in the soil for as many days as possible during the year, and keeping the soil covered as much as possible.

The World Soil Day 2019 event and related activities including a chemical-free announcement were aimed at raising awareness of the importance of sustaining healthy ecosystems while addressing challenges in soil management and soil erosion, particularly chemical use in farming activities.

Governments, policymakers, organisations, communities and individuals around the world are being encouraged to engage in improving soil health.

Soil is an essential resource and a vital part of the natural environment from which most of the globe's food is produced.

At the same time, soil provides living space for humans, as well as essential ecosystem services which are important for water regulation and supply, climate regulation, biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration and cultural services, according to the network.

However, soil erosion is a major threat to global agriculture and food production.

If action is not taken to stop the present rate of soil erosion, more than 90% of the world's soil could be degraded by 2050, they warned.

"Every five seconds, somewhere in the world, an area the size of a football pitch is eroded," said Jong-jin Kim, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations Deputy Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific.

"Since it can take a thousand years for nature to create just a few centimetres of topsoil, once we lose it, we won't see it again in our lifetime."

His speech at the Ratchaburi event also emphasised the need for the FAO and the government to work together to protect soil and raise awareness about its importance.

The TSP's announcement comes as the government decides whether or not to ban the herbicide glyphosate and delay prohibitions against paraquat and chlorpyrifos.

Chairman of National Hazardous Substances Committee and Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit earlier claimed the panel voted to postpone the ban on paraquat and chlorpyrifos and restrict the use of glyphosate instead of banning it.

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