The Importance of Soil Health
World Soil Day celebrates the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to human wellbeing. Held on 5th December 2017, the theme of this year’s event is ‘Caring for the planet starts from the ground’, highlighting the need to protect this finite natural resource.
Conventional cotton is associated with huge inputs of water and pesticides, deteriorating ecosystems, health and livelihoods of cotton farmers and their surrounding communities.
Understanding that soil quality is the foundation on which good farming is based, at CottonConnect through our REEL Cotton Programme, we are training cotton farmers how to maintain soil health and farm sustainably, with the help of various bio-diverse fertilisers and sustainable farming practices. Not only does organic soil improve the quality of the cotton, but it also contains sufficiently higher amounts of nutrients compared to conventional soil, reducing the need for chemical fertilisers and thus helping farmers to save on their cost of farming inputs.
Moreover, we are also training farmers on the importance of composting and intercropping. The benefits of composting include improved soil health by adding stable organic matter to the soil, and slowly releases major nutrients; improved soil structure and fertility which can increase yield potential; better water management as compost can prevent water logging of heavy soils and increasing water infiltration.
Intercrop training teaches farmers that intercrops, including peas or beans, are not secondary crops but in fact beneficial crops that help in nutrient fixation which ultimately improve the quality of the cotton.
CottonConnect’s REEL Cotton Programme is a three-year agricultural programme providing farmers with training on sustainable cotton farming practices. The REEL programme has trained over 20,000 farmers in India, China, Pakistan and Peru, and aims to improve soil health by training farmers on the following eight principles:
- Management skills
- Plant and field management
- Soil nutrient management
- Pest management
- Water management
- Ecosystem protection
- Waste management
- Institutional grouping
As a result of the training, and caring from the planet from the ground, farmers on our REEL Cotton Programme have seen water, pesticide and fertiliser usage reduced by 16%, 40% and 20% respectively.
If you are interested in working with us on improving soil health through sustainable cotton farming practices, please download our REEL Cotton factsheet for more information.