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  • Dr Felicity Crotty

What is soil health and why soil matters in Ukraine

What is the impact of the war in Ukraine on soil health and agricultural productivity?

The war in Ukraine has had a significant impact on soil health and agricultural productivity across the country but particularly in conflict-affected areas. The conflict, which began in 2014, has led to the widespread destruction of infrastructure and agricultural land, displacement of people, and contamination of soil and water resources due to the use of heavy weapons and chemicals.

The conflict has had major impacts on soil health, including increased erosion risk, reduced crop yields and has directly led to the destruction of irrigation systems, drainage channels, and other infrastructure necessary for efficient agricultural production. This has caused soils to become waterlogging and led to salinization of soils in some areas, which can reduce crop yields and make it difficult for farmers to cultivate their land both now and in the future.

The use of heavy weapons such as artillery and tanks has also led to physical damage to soil and vegetation, which can result in soil compaction, increased surface runoff, erosion and loss of topsoil. In addition, the use of chemical agents by both sides in the conflict has further contaminated soil and water resources.

The displacement of people from their homes and farmland has also had a significant impact on agricultural productivity in the region. Many farmers have been forced to abandon their land or have had their crops destroyed by the conflict, leading to a loss of income and food security.

Overall, the war in Ukraine has had a negative impact on soil health and agricultural productivity in the affected areas, with significant long-term consequences for food security and economic development in the region. In this short video, Dr Felicity Crotty from the Royal Agricultural University looks at the nature of soil health and how it has been impacted by the war.

Dr Crotty explores some of the historical challenges Ukraine faced as well as those that have been exacerbated due to the damage from the war.

The key challenge now is to map and characterise the contamination, what remediation approaches might be relevant and how to prioritise land for surveying and returning to agricultural productivity.

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