Soil and the Economy
Soil plays a crucial role in the economy of countries. Farming
and agricultural industries are probably the most reliant upon
soil, particularly in respect to crop production, which has risen
dramatically in the last 50 years in order to cope with the demands
of an equally rapidly growing global population.
The demand for more crops has increased the demand for plant nutrients
in the form of fertilisers. For a long time, many farms relied
on animal manure for this. However most farms in the west now use
artificial fertilisers, because it allows more control over which
nutrients should be applied to the soil and when.
In the developed countries of the world it has been possible to
increase the productivity of soils immensely because of the introduction
and development of such fertilisers For example, the use of nitrogen
fertilisers has increased 15-fold in the UK in the last 50 years,
and over the same period yields of some crops have trebled. Research
conducted into crop growth, and how soils release nutrients to
plants, has enabled farmers to use suitable and better adapted
fertilisers for different crops and soils, and thus add to the
fertility of their soils.
There are many other economic land uses that are dependent on
the soil, particularly forestry. Trees are usually longer term
'crops' in which an important relationship is built up with the
soil to establish a nutrient balance.