Checking soil quality Peter Parks/Getty Images

La science des sols pour une planète affamée

AUBURN, ALABAMA – Selon les Nations Unies, autour de 2050, la population d’humains sur la planète frôlera le dix milliards, un seuil qui mettra à rude épreuve beaucoup des systèmes du monde les plus importants, en particulier l’agriculture. Comment les agriculteurs — y compris les cultivateurs démunis des pays en développement — augmenteront-ils la productivité des cultures pour satisfaire la demande croissante de nourriture ?

Nourrir la planète entière de façon efficace sera une tâche ardue, et des facteurs intangibles comme les changements climatiques, les conflits violents et l’accès à de l’eau potable viendront compliquer les choses. De nouvelles techniques agraires qui font appel à des données et à des drones pour contrôler l’état de santé des cultures aideront certainement. Mais l’une des méthodes les plus porteuses pour accroître les rendements pérennes viendra de l’exploitation de ce qui est déjà dans le sol.

Des microbes qui se retrouvent naturellement dans les sols favorisent la santé des cultures, se traduisant par une plus grande production agricole. Mais la mauvaise gestion des sols peut entraîner une perte de contenu microbien. Grâce à ces microorganismes bénéfiques qui régénèrent les sols appauvris, la productivité des exploitations agricoles peut être accrue, sans faire appel à des intrants coûteux comme des engrais et des insecticides, permettant ainsi de relever l’énorme défi de nourrir une population croissante tout en protégeant l’environnement.

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