A study finds nearly half of India’s soil vulnerable to floods and a third to droughts.

About the study

  • The study, titled “Unearthing India’s soil moisture anomalies: impact on agriculture and water resource strategies,” Published in Springer Journal.
  • The study examines changes in soil moisture levels (using soil moisture at a depth of 0 to 10 cm) across India and by comparing 2023 data with historical averages from 2000 to 2005.

Key Findings of the study

Soil Moisture Anomalies (SMA) in India (2023)

  • Impact of Negative SMA on Drought Vulnerability:
  1. In 2023, approximately 32.8% of India’s land area experienced negative SMA, indicating vulnerability to drought stress across about 1.08 million square kilometers. 
  2. This has potentially affected agricultural productivity and water resource management.
  • Positive SMA and Risks of Flooding: 
  1. Conversely, about 47.7% of India’s geographical area saw soil moisture levels exceeding historical averages, totaling about 1.57 million square kilometers. 
  2. This positive anomaly increased the risks of flooding and waterlogging in rural and urban areas.

Study Insights and Recommendations

  • Significance of Detailed State-Wise Assessment: 
  1. The study presents a detailed state-wise assessment of seasonal SMAs, emphasizing the need for tailored water management policies to optimize agriculture productivity and enhance climate resilience.
  • Disparities Across Regions and Seasonal Variability: 
  1. It highlights disparities between regions and across seasons, suggesting mitigation measures that can be adapted from other states to achieve sustainability in water management practices.

Practical Applications and State-Wise Findings

  • Impact on Agriculture and Water Resource Strategies: 
  1. It asserts that soil moisture fluctuations critically influence crop yields, water availability, and food security across India’s diverse climatic zones.
  • Seasonal Analysis and State-Specific Strategies: 
  1. From June to September, Punjab benefited from positive SMAs, supporting robust crop growth and mitigating flooding risks. 
  2. Odisha faced negative SMAs, necessitating improved water management strategies modeled after successful practices in Punjab.
  • State-Specific Challenges and Recommendations: 
  1. States like Bihar and Jharkhand continue to struggle with below-average soil moisture, prompting the adoption of enhanced irrigation and water conservation methods. 
  2. States like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, experiencing above-average soil moisture variability, require robust water management policies for sustainable agriculture.

Key recommendations: 

  • Creating region-specific policies to manage soil moisture effectively, such as drought management plans for dry regions and flood strategies for surplus moisture areas. 
  • Investing in advanced soil moisture monitoring systems using remote sensing and ground-based sensors to obtain real-time data for prompt decision-making.

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