Soils as a water resource: some thoughts on managing soils for productive landscapes meeting development challenges

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Publication details

JournalAgro Environ
DatePublished - 2012
VolumeSoils as a water resource
Number of pages8
Original languageEnglish


Humanity is facing fundamental challenges in the anthropocene on how to produce food, fodder and fibre, in an era of increasingly limited resources. Freshwater and healthy soil systems are fundamental in this, and in particular in areas with high rainfall variability soils with low inherent nutrient status and people with marginal resources to invest in their local landscape production resources. This paper argue that soil and water management for healthy soil systems and availability of soils moisture (green water) are a first step towards transforming landscapes to more productive and sustainable, and yet an untapped opportunity in particular in sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia semiarid and sub-humid tropical areas. Three examples of transforming landscapes in India, Burkina Faso and Tanzania serve to inform on processes of change initiated by managing soil health and water in landscape. Changes have been achieved over 15-30 years, although not always towards an healthy state of the landscapes. Positive change has been achieved with significant internal and external investments, added knowledge and awareness, and through coupled soil nutrient and soil water interventions. Soil science academics can contribute to adoption of ‘green’ water management as a lever to accelerate improved production, productivity and sustainability of crops and surrounding ecosystem services in currently low yielding and unsustainable landscapes.

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