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Legumes and Sustainable Use of Soils

  • Ram Swaroop Meena
  • Rattan Lal
Chapter

Abstract

Sustainable use of soils is among the global challenges of the twenty-first century. In addition, growing food for 7.55 billion people (10.6% are prone to hunger and 26.7% to malnutrition and hidden hunger) in 2017 is a further challenge and threat to environment and sustainable production. Thus, food and nutritional demands must be met without degrading the natural environment. While the Haber-Bosch industrial process is producing about 100 Tg of reactive nitrogen (N) per annum globally, it creates enormous environmental problems. On a global basis, the supplied natural biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) is 110 Tg N per year on land and 140 Tg N per year in the ocean. Reducing the amount of N production is possible with the addition of legumes in the cropping systems. Soil sustainability implies the ecological balance, enhancement of soil functions, and biodiversity. Therefore, recommended technologies of crops and cropping systems which promote soil sustainability must be promoted. Legumes are known for their positive impacts, such as BNF, weed suppression, erosion control as cover crop, soil health improvement, and most importantly toward the eradication of malnutrition in third-world countries. Therefore, these crops can contribute to achieving the objectives of sustainable food and environmental security. Hence, inclusion of legumes in cropping system is inevitable in advancing soil sustainability and food and nutritional security (1 kg of grain legumes contain 180–430 g of protein) without compromising the long-term soil fertility potential. Rational soil management practices must involve legume-based rotations and intercropping considerations for restoring soil health, and soil sustainability should be given due emphasis.

Keywords

Food and nutritional security Legumes Soil health Management 

Abbreviations

IYP

International Year of Pulses

N

Nitrogen

UN

United Nations

IYS

International Year of Soils

SOC

Soil organic carbon

TG

Teragram

N2O

Nitrous oxide

NO3

Nitrate

P

Phosphorus

C

Carbon

SOM

Soil organic matter

LER

Land equivalent ratio

BMPs

Best management practices

BNF

Biological nitrogen fixation

SMB

Soil microbial biomass

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ram Swaroop Meena
    • 1
  • Rattan Lal
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AgronomyInstitute of Agricultural Sciences (BHU)VaranasiIndia
  2. 2.Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, SENR/FAESThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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