Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Guest Blog: Some thoughts on Agrogeology...

GfGD is delighted to repost the following comment made by Dr D Vasudevan, with his permission,on our original 'Key Theme' post covering agrogeology. His comment gave some helpful insights and thoughts about the history and importance of this subject. Dr Vasudevan has extensive experience as a geologist in India, formerly working as the Deputy Director General of the Indian Geological Survey.
"The blog on agrogeology highlights the importance of geological application in enhancing the quality of soils used in agro-farming and forestry.
Agrogeology formed part of the curriculum in geological studies in Britain and even in U.S.A in the first half of the last century and in fact there were a couple of treatises written on agrogeology, the most notables being the text book on agricultural geology by Prof. Rastall in UK and the other by Prof. Tarr in USA. In fact, in the late 1890s and the begining of 20th century the Geological Survey of India included soil studies as part of geological investigations in its annual field programmes. For reasons unknown, in later years soil study got detached and eliminated from the domain of geology and became deeply entrenched in agricultural science. The British and US Geological Surveys and universities removed soil studies from their research programmes; whereas in Eastern European countries agrogeology was fostered as a research field in major geological institutes.
Fortunately, a series of famines in African countries brought back agrogeological studies into focus and even the USGS has begun to reestablish the importance of geological studies of soil for improving agricultural, sericultural, forestry and fishing potential of the country. As soils, because of repeated and uninterupted usage over centuries, are fast getting depleted of their micronutrients they need to be revitalised in a natural way rather than by usage of artificially produced fertilisers. The best way would be to remineralise the soils using suitable mineral/rock powder which, interacting with the soil microbes, are absorbed by the plants.
I hope Indian authorities too realise the importance of soil studies as an integral part of geological studies and thereby introduce agrogeology in university courses, and include it in the country's premiere geological institutes as a research wing .For in the coming millinea there may be shortage of cultivable land leading to acute food shortage and we must be on our guard to sustain effective agro-farming and water management."