|Home > Agriculture Pavilion > Nutrients for the soil > Taiwan's Land Is Not Very Healthy|
Taiwan's Land Is Not Very Healthy
"Taiwan's soil is not very healthy, and it should be rated as lower than average," said Hung-yu Kuo, director of the Agricultural Chemistry Division of the Agricultural Research Institute, the Council of Agriculture.
This is judged by the soil's buffer capacity. Taiwan's soil has some 8-12 units, while that of the US soil is 30-40 and in Japan it is 20.
"Looking at it as the soil・s fertility passbook, Taiwan's soil does not have much left in its passbook. So it is necessary to continue making deposits (using fertilizers)," said Kuo. But the problem is that most of the deposits have ended up as "bad debts," with not much left to be used.
This is really a shame because Taiwan's soil is very precious. "Soils in the world are classified into 12 Soil Orders, and Taiwan has 11 of them, all except for Gelisols which exists only in the Arctic Circle north of latitude 60 degrees North." Even Andisols, formed in volcanic ash which accounts for only 0.7% of the world's soil, can be found in Yangmingshan in suburban Taipei.
A Soil Taxonomy published by the United States Department of Agriculture's Soil Survey Staff places the world's soil in 12 categories known as orders. With the exception of Gelisols, Taiwanese versions of the other 11 Soil Orders are displayed in the Agricultural Research Institute's Taiwan Soil Exhibition Hall.
On display there are large pieces of soil cross-sections, instead of small soil samples. For example, a 3-meter cross-section soil sample from Kinmen shows traces left by water and wind in the stratum of earth on the coast of Kinmen over 80 million years.
Taking these samples was very difficult. For instance, the soil sample from Formosan Pig Cave hills in Taitung County was found by Kuo and his colleagues after traveling between Taichung and Taitung for more than 20 days. The sample is absolutely of the world class and completely displays the transformation of the Earth・s crust in the Taitung area starting five million years ago.
The Exhibition Hall displays such amazing samples of Taiwan's soil, but some places from where the samples were taken have been changed significantly and people of Taiwan have not treated such precious soils very well. Moreover many soils have been replaced by big buildings, new communities or new townships in many areas. Of the remaining land, at least one third has been acidified, and a lot of land has been contaminated by heavy metals.
Acidification is a very serious problem for Taiwan's farmland and the problem cames from farmers' excessive demands for agricultural production.
In other words, taking Taiwan's farmland as a senior high school student preparing for college entrance examination, farmers are the student's parents who keep on feeding him with vitamins or Chinese medicinal supplements (chemical fertilizers), or even patent medicines claimed to be good for the brain or growth, hoping that their child (farmland) will be accepted by a good university (growingplrnyigul hihh-quality farm products). But after taking excessive supplements, the student is ill from over-nutrition. Acidification is such a disease that affects rich people.
"Agriculture in Taiwan has to begin moving towards sustainable development. Soil is not good for production only. It also has such ecological functions like regulating the weather and water resources,"noted Kuo.
There is a slogan in the Taiwan Soil Exhibition Hall saying "A spoon of soil contains 100 million germs and 240 meter-long hyphae." Each germ and every inch of hyphae represents endless lives. "If these lives are dead, soil dies, too."
Using too many fertilizers will probably kill these lives in the soil.
We have to keep Taiwan's soil alive and well.