It is a Fondef Idea project executed by the Universidad Austral de Chile and as associated entities ODEPA, INDAP and SAG of the Ministry of Agriculture
Paola Segovia – Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences UACh.- Soil degradation is one of the most serious and widespread problems on a global scale, since practically all the world’s soils have undergone transformations due to anthropic action, and in many cases, decreasing their quality and their ability to provide Ecosystem services.
In this context, the Launch Seminar of the FONDEF IDeA R&D Project was held on June 7 at the Isla Teja Campus of the Austral University of Chile.Development and availability of indices of fragility and soil quality for the management and sustainable management of ecosystems in the Regions of Los Ríos and Aysén”which was attended by more than fifty people, including representatives of public services, university authorities, professionals, researchers, academics and students.
The seminar began with the welcome words of the Prodean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences of the UACh, Dr. Carolina Lizana, who valued the impact of this project, which translates into “indices that will have a very important relevance for decision-making based on the fragility of the soil and that will surely contribute to the sustainable management of this non-renewable resource and which is the basis of the agri-food chain”.
Meanwhile, the Regional Director of the Servicio Agrícola Ganadero, SAG, Los Ríos, Rubén Cofré, indicated that this initiative “contributes to the improvement of the management and conservation of our soils, as a Service we support these initiatives and even more so if it is a project that it involves two regions with our full support”.
For her part, the Alternate Director of the Project and Director of the Institute of Agricultural Engineering and Soils of the UACh and of the Magister in Soil Sciences, Dr. Susana Valle, stated that these initiatives highlight the research carried out by the institute and the contribution to the institutions of the country, since They will generate tools for sustainable decision-making in the country’s agroecosystems. Likewise, it contributes to the formation of human capital specialized in soil sciences.
This project is led by Dr. Dante Pinochet, an academic from the Institute of Agricultural and Soil Engineering (IIAS) of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences of the Austral University of Chile. The work team is made up of the researchers (as) specialists in soils, Dr. Susana Valle; Dr. Felipe Zúñiga, academic from the Faculty of Forest Sciences and Natural Resources; Dr. John Clunes, IIAS Professor and Artificial Intelligence Expert, MSc. Luis Vidal, academic from the Faculty of Engineering Sciences of the UACh.
On the occasion, Dr. Dante Pinochet, presented the talk “Importance of the Project and definition of soil quality and fragility indices”, in which he explained that the general objective of this study is to develop and make available fragility and quality indices based on soil properties to zone the productive and natural ecosystems of the Los Ríos and Aysén regions.
Likewise, he indicated that the project has already been under development for a few months, starting with field work by researchers who have carried out soil sampling during the summer and autumn in the Los Ríos and Aysén regions and the sampling is still continuing, mainly in the Los Ríos Region.
Among the issues he addressed are the interrelationships in ecosystems considering that in an agroecosystem, the soil is the most permanent and, therefore, a record of the history of the management that is carried out. He also referred to soil functions such as water purification and pollutant reduction, climate regulation, nutrient recycling, organism habitat, flood regulation, carbon sequestration, food provision, base for human constructions, and cultural heritage. among other.
He stressed that soil is a non-renewable natural resource on a human scale and, therefore, finite in time. In this context, he explained that the hypothesis of this project was that “the degradation threshold of a soil is defined by its fragility index and the improvement in soil functionality is defined by the quality indices. The availability of soil fragility and quality indices become decisive management tools for making economic and environmental decisions depending on the type of soil”.
Professor Pinochet explained that the information generated will be available on the platforms used by the SIRSD-S IDEMINAGRI program in the regions involved in the project.
Opinions of entities associated with the project
For Gabriel Cartes, PASO Degraded Soils Program Coordinator, “one of the problems that exist at the national level is the availability of information, therefore, the product that will come out of this study will be relevant, given that all the actors protagonists of agriculture, they will have this information for decision-making and that also in terms of public policies”.
For her part, Karen Báez, in charge of INDAP’s Degraded Soils Program (SIRSD-S), said that they are “hopeful with the results that the project may have, because we believe that it is a tool that can be used in regional technical committees , where you can focus the resources that this program has to make decisions. In short, it is a tool for managing the management of the program and any public policy that is related to agricultural soils”.
Finally, Rodrigo Osorio, National Coordinator of the SIRSD-S Program of the Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG), added that “this is a topic that we have been discussing for a long time at the Ministry of Agriculture, with the idea of generating information for the decision-making with public policies that are associated with agriculture. In the particular case of the soil program, we It helps to be able to focus resources on the priority areas of degraded agricultural soils, and also to begin to see what types of activities can be done on that type of soil”
“For us, the invitation from the University, through Professor Dante Pinochet, was very important, because he was able to elucidate the problems that we have as a State with respect to the information generated from the soil,” stressed the representative of the SAG.