Monday, September 13, 2010

Top soil makes bricks

Top-soil in farmlands are coveted items. It takes a very long time for top-soil to form, and is almost entirely responsible for providing the foods humans eat across the globe.

Strange as it may sound, top-soil is increasingly being sold across relatively vast areas in north India by farmers to maker of bricks.

Tall chimneys scattered across the landscape give away locations of the kilns that are fueled by fire wood, also taken from the immediate surroundings.

A new chimney is being constructed and marks the location of a new
brick kiln in Barabanki district.

The removal of top soil leaves behind brown scars, and also walls of mud.

Barren grounds in Etah are used to dry tobacco leaves after
the top-soil has been sold to make bricks.

While the effect of such removal on agricultural productivity remains unknown, the walls certainly have great utility for wildlife. Foxes use them to den, and bee-eaters and bank mynas use them to nest.

Bank Mynas make their condominiums in a sheer wall created
by removal of top soil for making bricks in Mathura.

Strange and unpredictable are the ways in which "new" habitat becomes available for wildlife in this human-dominated landscape!

(Photograph information: Chimney in Barabanki district photographed 20 Nov 2008; barren ares in Etah district photographed 14 May 2010; nesting Bank Mynas in Mathura district photographed 25 Mar 2009.)


  1. very interesting.... i recently read an article according to which, it was a good thing if the topsoil is removed. in many areas, bricks are no longer made, and the soil is also not used for farming, so the top soil is left as it is.. as it hardens, it apparently is no longer of use, and when the next layer appears, it also cant be used again,since the base is hardened... so it seems that removing the top soil is beneficial for both, us, as well as wildlife... but then again, this could just be one half of the story... since we are not experts, we dont really know, do we??

  2. Fascinating Anu. Would love to have the link or source. Things are fairly complicated in these vast farmlands, and continually interesting!