Fertility Status and Dynamics of Soils in the Nepal Himalaya: A Review and Analysis pp.111-136
Authors: (Roshan M. Bajracharya Dept. of Environmental Science and Engineering Kathmandu University, Dhulikhel, Dil Prasad Sherchan, Nepal Agricultural Research Council Kathmandu, Nepal)
Abstract: The Himalayan mountain range stretches from Afghanistan in the west to Myanmar
in the East covering a distance of over 3500 km. Nepal is a densely populated, highly
diverse and ecologically fragile country situated within the Central Himalaya between
India and China. The inhabitants of the Himalayan region depend heavily on subsistence
agriculture as the mainstay and primary source of livelihood. Natural resources in Nepal,
in particular, have come under tremendous pressures due to the ever-increasing human
and livestock populations and demand for food, fiber, construction material and energy.
This has led to degradation of the resource base including, forests, water and arable land.
Numerous workers have reported a steady decline in the fertility status of agricultural and
forest soils of Nepal. Moreover, high rates of soil erosion and nutrient loss have been
reported from degraded forest land, grazing lands and sloping agricultural fields. Other
factors contributing to the fertility and productivity decline of soils include: increasing
trend of chemical fertilizer use, decreasing amounts and quality of farmyard
manure/compost applied, and increasing cropping intensification. Sustainable options for
maintaining and enhancing soil fertility and productivity must address increasing the
return of crop residues and other organic materials to soil, reducing dependence on
inorganic fertilizers, and shifting to alternative fertilizer sources (such as bio-fertilizers)
and cropping systems (such as agroforestry and permaculture).