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Better Soil Management With Nuclear Techniques

Delegates peruse an exhibit on the sidelines of the International Symposium on Managing Soils for Food Security and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation taking place at the IAEA in Vienna, 23-27 July 2012. (Photo Credit: D. Calma/IAEA)

A week-long international symposium on Managing Soils for Food Security and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation has opened in Vienna highlighting the benefits of using nuclear techniques for farm and land management. Approximately 400 participants, consisting of scientists, policymakers, donors and collaborators from 80 countries and partner organizations, are signed up for the event.

Organized by the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture, the symposium is the first to be held in this field since 2000. It will review the significant advances that have been made so far, particularly the role that nuclear techniques have played to support the advances in improving farm management practices to enhance productivity. The symposium aims to communicate scientific and technological developments, identify gaps, and will give special emphasis on the importance of soil management in enhancing food security in the context of climate change.

IAEA Deputy Director General for Nuclear Sciences and Applications, Daud Mohamad, highlighted the importance of the symposium during his opening address.

"With the global population growing steadily, it has never been more important to develop agricultural technology to reduce hunger and poverty in an equitable and environmentally sustainable manner. Nuclear techniques enable farmers, food processors and government agencies to provide people with more and safer food, while conserving soil and water resources," he said.

About 83 oral contributions and 131 poster presentations are to be presented during the 5-day symposium, touching on areas such as soil and nutrient resources management; preservation and protection of soil resources; managing soils for climate change adaptation and mitigation; application of isotopic tracers for measuring water and nutrient dynamics; and advances in the development of nuclear-based instruments and analytical techniques.

In the first 4 days of the event, experts will share information on conventional technologies, as well as on the role of nuclear techniques in generating data on soil. Scientists will debate how this data can be used in improving soil quality for food production and for making soil more resilient against climate change.

The fifth day will host the FAO's Global Soil Partnership workshop. This workshop aims to link science and policy in an effort towards sustainable management of soil resource for food security and climate change adaptation.

With the help of nuclear techniques, the IAEA helps countries improve the quality of the soil and adapt to the devastating effects of climate change. Through these techniques, scientists have managed to not only help the soil become more resilient to climate change, but also to help reduce the emissions that cause it.

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