Degradation of land refers to the gradual but consistent loss of fertility. This is emerging as a serious concern in the context of environmental issues in India. The following are the factors that contribute to land degradation in India:
(i) Soil Erosion: The removal of upper layer of the soil caused by agents like strong winds or floods is termed as soil erosion. The top most layer of the soil carries major and essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Consequently, the loss of this layer deteriorates the quality and productivity of land.
(ii) Alkalinity and Salinity of Soil: The salinity and alkalinity is caused by the problem of water logging. Water logged on the top layer of soil absorbs all the nutrients present in the soil, thereby, reducing its fertility.
(iii) Deforestation: The growing population along with their ever growing demand lead to large scale destruction of forest cover. The reduction of forest coverage leads to soil erosion that in turn causes climate change
(iv) Shifting Cultivation: The practice of shifting cultivation and subsistence farming carried by the small and the marginal farmers result in the replenishment of soil nutrients and, hence, its fertility.
(v) Excessive use of Fertilizers: The excessive use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides lowers the quality and fertility of soil.
(vi) Desertification: The spread of deserts in arid and semi arid areas is referred to as desertification. It occurs due to overgrazing of the animals. This results in the reduction of lush green areas that in turn leads to replenishment of soil fertility.