Question One, Soil Classification
Soil classifications differ greatly from vague to highly specific. To help uncover the indigenous soil knowledge, a simple dichotomy can be considered: physical and perceptual dimensions. The former class categorizes physical characteristics observable by sight, feel or taste. In Maya village in Mexico, people divided into four groups on the basis of color and location: yellow, black, red and cacab (stony) soils (Whitehead, 2000, p. 209). Texture and structure were additional physical characteristics used to classify soil. Among the Hanunoo in Philippines there were eight categories based on: moisture content, sand content, rock content, general texture, firmness, structure, structure in wet season and color. Other considerable scope in more complicated classification includes taste and vegetative cover as indicators of soil richness. Malaysian farmers categorize soil based on taste and other characteristics like sweetness and acidic content.
Perceptual measurement catchall for criteria which are not as concrete as those in physical measurement. In sections of Mexico, Hernandez encountered individuals who referred to their soils as caliente (hot) and frio (cold).The allusion to hot or cold was not real temperature calibrated in degrees but to relative fertility (Mahajan, 2006, p. 310). The concept of hot was in reference to high fertility and cold to low fertility.
Indigenous classification tends to be shallow compared to modern classification. There could be two reasons which are partly overlapping: the first being that indigenous classification is primarily functional in nature, while modern classification is largely based on the knowledge of pedogenesis. Secondly, native taxa appear to be derived on property of surface scope only. Much as the vertical insight is there but it is ignored for taxonomic purposes. However, the main diagnostic features of modern soil taxa are character and sequence of soil horizons. In other words, the perception of taxonomic unit is two dimensional for indigenous classification and three dimensional for modern classification. The other distinction is the lack of exclusive taxonomic membership in indigenous categorization (Boardman, 2007, p. 255).
Question Two, Drought
A number of weather conditions play central in influencing operations adopted by farmers in various sections. Owing to these, cross examination of existing conditions is often considered by farmers all over the globe in the adoption of various actions. Natural Resources Conservation Service Unit (NRCS) has always supported farmers in meeting the required conditions for their practices. This has been made possible through a number supports among them providing information that are integral in vital decision making process (Morgan, 2004, p. 311). Drought conditions have been one of the conditions that in the past have contributed negatively in the farming practices. The agency has worked in close tie with farmers in North America to conserve number natural resources that are vital in farming operations (Morgan, 2004, p. 300). Drought conditions in general pose threat to plantation due to lack of water which is important in success of the farming activities. In line with this, the agency has provided farmers in the region with various irrigation gadgets that allow watering in both small and large scale. In addition, the agency has adopted certain measures that ensure that drought conditions are prevented. Among them being enactment of certain policies that governs farmers’ actions. For example, in 2010, the agency prohibited farming practices around forest plantations (Fanning & Fanning, 1989, p. 327). This move was aimed at reducing the felling down of trees that threatened the forest resource. In addition, educative programs have also been initiated by the agency that target farmers within region. Water conservation for a long time has been placed central as the agenda of the agency in bid to curb severe consequences of drought. Owing to the effect of drought in the soil moisture content, the agency has also educated farmers within the region on the need to adopt mulching practices as a measure of conserving the soil living organisms besides improving the overall agricultural produce.
Question Three, Importance of Soil microbes
Soil microbes play a critical in plant health. According to the theory of evolution, early soil microbes (algae and bacteria) had an ability to fix nitrogen, a nutrient essential in plant growth (Lookadoo, 2008, p. 87). Nitrogen is readily available in the environment however plants cannot access it its gaseous form. They can only use nitrogen that has been incorporated into compounds like ammonia and nitrate. Today many soil microbes feed on by products from growing roots and in turn help the plants by extracting minerals and vitamins from the soil. These organisms help enhance soil structure, control plant-preying insects cultivating an underground economic system. Soil microbes also help to breakdown decaying plant and animal matter and so increase soil fertility. Without that work, litters of dropped leaves would cover houses. Soils hold twice quantity of carbon found within air. Soil microbes play a significant role since as plants and animals decay some of their carbon component become part of the organic matter instead of being eliminated into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide gas.
Nitrogen cycle his is the procedure by which nitrogen gas available in the atmosphere is converted to various forms by a number of agents, this conversion is made possible by both biological and physical processes. Among the important processes include fixation, ammonification, nitrification and dentrification among others. A greater section of earth’s atmosphere is nitrogen which is essential in the growth of plants. Nevertheless, atmospheric nitrogen is less available for biological use, leading to its scarcity of usable nitrogen in many ecosystems. The fixation process of nitrogen is made possible through lightning strikes and also by free-living symbiotic bacteria known as diazotrophs. They combine gaseous nitrogen with hydrogen to form ammonia (Lookadoo, 2008, p. 87).
Plants then take in nitrogen from the soil by absorption to form nitrate or ammonium ions. A larger percentage of nitrogen obtained by terrestrial animals can be traced back to eating the plants in the food chain. In the event that plants die and decay or animals release waste in the form of nitrogen, add to the soil humus. Soil Bacteria are in a position of converting the nitrogen back to ammonia; a process commonly referred to as ammonification. Nitrification refers to the alteration ammonia to nitrate done with the help of soil-living bacteria, nitrosomonas and nitrobacter. This process proceeded by denitrification, where nitrates are reduced to inert nitrogen thus completing the nitrogen cycle. This procedure is brought into completion by bacteria species pseudomonas and clostridium in anaerobic conditions (United States, 1935, p. 120).
Question Four, Soil Erosion
A number of aspects in relation to soil have become pronounced in the recent times owing to changes in individuals’ lifestyle among them new farming techniques. Moreover, due technological advancement in a number of sectors, certain emerging trends have developed over years. Among issues that have dominated the soil domain is the aspect of soil erosion. Soil erosion refer to the carrying away of the top soil by various agents. The effects of soil erosion are far reaching and should be curbed in order to achieve effectiveness in the farming practices. Since 19th century, there has been strives by many countries and sectors to embrace industrialization in most practices (Brandow, 2008, p. 409).These industrial activities have been connected to weak soil structures in a number of areas. As a result of this, in the event of long rains, massive carrying away of top soil are often manifested. In a` broader perspective, industrial emissions have also been associated with increasing soil erosion in a number of regions. Certain gasses emitted by these industries results into death of natural resources that are key in soil preservation (Gray, 2002, p. 200). Finally, the increasing desert encroachment has also been a major contributor to massive soil erosion in various countries. This aspect has been experienced mostly in Africa due to encroachment of the Sahara desert. Desert conditions often contribute to creation of strong winds which become agents in soil erosion. Another remarkable effect in regard to soil erosion was experienced in 2006 during Tsunami that resulted into great carrying away of soil over a vast region
Question Five, Soil nutrients
Soil erosion directly influences the soil nutrient content which in the long run greatly affects overall agricultural produces. Erosion basically takes away the top soil which is rich in humus. In the event of heavy downpour, large volumes of humus will be carried away leaving the remaining soil structure barren. The result of this will be unproductive land that cannot withstand agricultural demands. The condition will be more adverse in the case of clay soil that large water volumes will remain held above the soil surface. Besides resulting into lack of air penetration into the soil, the situation will lead to literal death of soil living organisms (Toy, Foster &Renard, 2002, p. 100). In the long run, soil nutrient volume will be compromised as living organisms contribute a larger percentage of the nutrient content. Certain practices have been initiated to in order to prevent cases of erosion of the soil nutrients. Adoption of mixed cropping has been instrumental in maintaining the soil structure making it compact to withstand soil erosion. Mixed cropping between leguminous crops and fodder crops have been adopted in most parts of the United States with an aim of reducing the effects of erosion. Mixed cropping with legumes has also been widely adapted due to its contribution to soil nutrient capacity. This is because of the availability of nitrogen within nodules of the plants that helps in improving the soil nitrogen content. Another key contribution that has been implemented with a view of improving the soil nutrient content is artificial injection of nutrient into the soil (Brown &Nambiar, 1997, p. 109). I regard with the provided site, extensive research are initially undertaken in order to ensure the nutrient needs of the crops. Industrial operations have also been linked to soil erosion in the recent times. Among the effluents emitted in the atmosphere are dangerous gasses that results into acidic rain. Heavy down pour of acidic rain compromises the salinity of the soil besides causing disintegration of rock particles that are necessary in preventing cases of erosion. This has seen legislations being put in place to examine the nature of effluents by companies and other organizations. Moreover, governments and other concerned authorities have also allocated special funds towards the prevention of possible soil erosion within their areas of jurisdiction (Barber, 1995, p. 398).
Superfund agency has strived to eliminate hazardous materials from the environments. This has been achieved through adoption of preventive measures that ensures that organizations initiate safe measures in disposing their used products. The main agenda of the agency for the past years has been to promote a healthy environment and with close focus on decontamination of soil. Besides causing ugly scenes, these hazardous materials like chemicals causes’ death to soil microorganisms which contributes greatly to soil fertility. There various superfund sites in America and even in other continents. Due to the large population of rural areas in the United states, dilapidated conditions have been manifested as people carelessly dispose waste materials. This has caused devastating effects to soil condition as the chemical and other substances disposed are harmful to soil content. . Owing to these, necessary policies should be adopted that will govern soil usage among other activities that affect soil either directly or indirectly (Whitehead, 2000, -. 197). Development of more soil research institutes should also be adopted in order to enlighten individuals on favorable soil conditions for various practices. This in the long run will also curb malpractices that could compromise these conditions like soil pollution.
Question Seven, Lal (2007) documentary
From the readings in Lal (2007) it becomes convincing that humanity greatly relies on various natural sources for sustenance. Undertakings that directed towards preserving the natural resources will therefore be of great value to lives of humanity (Lal, 2007, p. 387). For example, activities aimed at conserving water resources are essential due to the vital function of water in agriculture which is a backbone in most societies. Other conservation practices like forest maintenance have contributed to the resulting climate conditions (Blanco &Lal, 2008, p. 398). This has made it key for various leaders to take central concern about conditions of existing natural resources since them directly or indirectly influence lives of humanity. The introduction of the use of bio fuel has also influenced the conservation of various natural resources. Through the use of readily available waste materials, other fuel sources like forest resource have been preserved. This source of energy are decomposable hence cannot result into various forms of pollution (Scragg, 2009, p. 219). Moreover, the affordability of the fuel has promoted the living standards of individuals in addition to being a source of income to certain sectors. Development of research institutions that focus on soil conditions are among other strive to improve soil conditions in regard to the environment.
From the foregoing, it becomes evident that soil condition is central in realizing the desired environmental state. Secondly, close relationship can be derived the realized agricultural produce and the existing conditions.
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