When we think of nature at its vibrant best, our tendency is to think of tall trees, charismatic mammals, reptiles or a coral reef. The ground beneath our feet rarely makes the cut. A humble mixture of minerals, organic matter, gases, liquids, and thousands of organisms ranging from tiny bacteria to foot-long earthworms, the top soil nurtures life as we know it. It provides water and nutrients for plants to grow, making it critical for agriculture.
Better quality soil ensures better yields; and exactly for this reason, we have been manipulating the natural soil with the reckless use of chemical fertilizers that provide additional nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (NPK), leading to over fertilization and diminishing yields. The short-term increase of yield in response to added chemical fertilizer was encouraged previously to gain food self-sufficiency in developing countries like India. However, continuous use of chemicals in the intensive (aka conventional) farming system also caused slow down (or fatigue) in productivity because of a declining response to applied chemical fertilizers, points out Dr. Debjani Sihi, a researcher at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, USA.