Since 2014, every December 5th, World Soil Day is celebrated, a date proposed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations -FAO-. This year it focuses on “Soils, origin of food” with the aim of raising awareness about the importance of soils for food production, while calling for sustainable management that guarantees soil health.
According to the book “Cultivation of sugarcane in Guatemala” by Cengicaña, plants, like sugarcane, require 16 elements called essential elements for their growth and development. Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen come from water and air; the other 13 nutrients are minerals that are obtained from the soil or are added as fertilizers.
Practices focused on soil conservation
Sustainable soil management has been key to sugar production in Guatemala. The Sugar Industry carries out a set of practices focused on soil and water conservation, including use of green manures, seedbeds in strips, design of areas with soil and water conservation structures (trenches, contour lines, and infiltration wells) and planting of the first third.
This set of activities focused on soil health and water conservation, contributes to:
- Decrease in the use of chemical fertilizers.
- Increase in organic matter, which means improvement in soil structure, moisture retention and soil biodiversity.
- Slight increase in yield in sugar production.
- Reduction of water erosion and surface runoff, which optimizes the infiltration of water that feeds the groundwater table.