Soil is an important non-renewable natural resource that is made of mineral and organic matter. It can take up to 10,000 years to build enough soil to create fertile farmland. Misguided agricultural practices such as the use of wrong fertilisers, over-exploitation of water resources and deforestation cause problems such as soil erosion, salinity, waterlogging and depletion of nutrients. Some other causes of soil degradation include flooding, urbanisation, rain and surface run-offs, wind action, fires, acid rain, mining, etc.
Bad irrigation techniques could lead to salinisation of soil. Large areas in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Karnataka are affected by salinity. Deforestation, a major cause of soil degradation could result in laterisation (hard soil due to accumulation of minerals). It has been estimated that the economic loss due to soil degradation could be in the range of 89 to 232 billion rupees. This implies a loss of about 11 per cent to 26 per cent of our agricultural output.