soil diversity News

  • Plant diversity: the secret to more nitrogen and carbon in soil

    Plants play a key role in soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) accumulation. New research suggests that plant diversity may have an important role to play in stimulating C and N storage in some soils. The findings suggest ways to improve carbon sequestration in grasslands and increase biomass production, for example for biofuel crops on nitrogen limited soils. Soil could be an important carbon sink ...

  • African soil diversity mapped for the first time

    A team of international experts has drawn up the Soil Atlas of Africa — the first such book mapping this key natural resource — to help farmers, land managers and policymakers understand the diversity and importance of soil and the need to manage it through sustainable use. They say that despite soil's importance, most people in Africa lack knowledge about it, partly because ...


    By SciDev.Net

  • Increasing diversity through crop rotation boosts soil microbial biodiversity and productivity

    Planting a variety of crop species in rotation in agricultural fields increases the diversity of soil microbes below ground, recent research has found. This in turn positively affects soil organic matter, soil structure and aids the healthy functioning of the soil. The researchers say that rotational diversity can help farmers to grow crops in a more sustainable way that promotes soil stability. ...

  • Deep ploughing reduces diversity and number of earthworms

    Less invasive soil preparation methods in farming, such as harrowing, have a positive impact on the numbers, biomass, and species richness of earthworms, unlike conventional ploughing, according to new research. The long-term study compared the results of five different methods of soil preparation on agricultural land in Germany over a ten-year period. Earthworms play a major role in the ...

  • OPINION: Don`t sweep away crop diversity

    Anywhere you go in Malawi you find people sweeping the ground clean-floors, sidewalks, bare dirt around homes-even throughout small farms and gardens. Danielle Nierenberg visits Kristof Nordin's permaculture garden in Malawi Sweeping soil makes everything look tidy, but it causes major damage, making it vulnerable to erosion and nutrient loss. Not removing organic matter around crops has proven ...


    By Worldwatch Institute

  • Plastic mulching reduces farmland bird numbers and diversity

    Using plastic sheeting to encourage early growth of crops reduces the number and diversity of farmland birds, new research from Poland suggests. The study shows that this effect continues even after plastic has been removed. Plastic ‘mulching’ is the use of sheets of plastic to cover vegetables after sowing; this controls weeds and increases the soil temperature, allowing faster ...

  • Peanuts: more genetically diverse than expected

    Virginia-type peanuts, the big ones sold in the shell or used in cocktail nut mixes, are more genetically variable than previously assumed, according to a new study from North Carolina State University. Before now, cultivated peanuts showed very little variability for molecular markers, leading some to conclude that there was virtually no genetic variation in the species. However, anyone who has ...

  • Maintaining food crop diversity: an interview with Gary Paul Nabhan

    Guest author Fred Bahnson interviewed Gary Paul Nabhan, a lecturer, food and farming advocate, folklorist, and conservationist who lives and farms in the U.S. Southwest. Nabhan discusses his new book, the future of agriculture, and how 1,400-year-old Lebanese farming techniques influence his land ethic. Tell me about your latest book, Where Our Food Comes From-Retracing Nikolay Vavilov's ...


    By Worldwatch Institute

  • Healthy soils for a healthy planet

    Healthy soils are vital in a world challenged by climate change. We need to decide how best to use land to provide food for a growing population and how it can be used to mitigate the effects of manmade emissions. The quality of soil must be maintained or restored if it is to provide its essential services: cycling nutrients, water and air, supporting biodiversity and acting as a substantial ...

  • Critical Issues in Global Soil Health

    Soil health is rarely equated into discussions of climate change, environmental protection, and sustainable development. However, soils play such a vital role in the planet’s survival that life cannot exist without them. They provide the basis for food and fiber production; support a diversity of plant, animal, and microbial life; and regulate nutrient cycles and gas exchange with ...

  • Past, present and future of soil sciences

    The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is reporting the results of a recent survey of trends related to the soil science profession. The results suggest that employment opportunities in soil and related sciences are increasing, and students, academics, and employers have a positive outlook for the future of soil science. Despite these positive findings, the survey identified areas to be ...

  • Alternative agricultural practices combine productivity and soil health

    The progressive degradation of useful soils for agriculture and farm animal husbandry is a growing environmental and social problem, given that it endangers the food safety of an increasing world population. This fact prompted the Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development – Neiker-Tecnalia – to design a series of research projects in order to evaluate alternative agricultural ...


    By ScienceDaily

  • Soil nitrogen increased through greater plant biodiversity

    Increased plant biodiversity improves grassland soil quality by boosting its nitrogen levels, even in the absence of nitrogen-fixing plants, recent research has found. Previous research has shown that grasslands with higher biodiversity had higher levels of carbon and nitrogen. However, in the case of nitrogen it has been suggested that this was purely a result of increased numbers of ...

  • Grassy field margins enhance soil biodiversity

    Grass strips at field margins are almost as valuable as hedgerows in encouraging diversity of soil creatures, according to new research. Six metre wide margin strips increase the number and variety of species such as earthworms, woodlice and beetles, and may act as corridors between isolated habitats. The study analysed the presence of invertebrates of three main feeding types - soil ingesters ...

  • Through microbes, nitrogen alters soil carbon cycle

    Soil scientists studying bacterial communities in hardwood forests have found evidence that extra human-derived nitrogen deposited from the atmosphere can change the composition of the soil microbial community, with implications for carbon cycling and sequestration. Don Zak and Sarah Eisenlord from the University of Michigan conducted a study on the response the soil bacterial community to levels ...

  • Soil biodiversity: functions, threats and tools for policy makers

    Human societies rely on the vast diversity of benefits provided by nature, such as food, fibres, construction materials, clean water, clean air and climate regulation. All the elements required for these ecosystem services depend on soil, and soil biodiversity is the driving force behind their regulation. With 2010 being the International Year of Biodiversity and with ...


    By European Commission

  • Australian soil could help fortify US sunflowers

    Improved disease resistance could be in store for tomorrow’s sunflower varieties, thanks to plants that ARS scientists collected in Australia and are evaluating in greenhouse trials in Fargo, North Dakota. ARS plant pathologist Thomas Gulya and ARS botanist Gerald Seiler collected seeds of wild sunflowers while in Australia from February 17 to March 14, 2007. The ARS Plant Exploration Office ...

  • Climate change to disrupt soil nutrients in drylands

    The increased aridity expected this century as a result of climate change may disrupt the balance of key soil nutrients with a knock-on effect on soil fertility threatening livelihoods of more than two billion people, a study finds. The drop in nitrogen and carbon concentrations that occurs as soils become dryer could have ...


    By SciDev.Net

  • Identifying future soil science research needs

    Soil is subjected to a growing number of human-caused dangers from contamination, urbanization, desertification, salinization, mismanagement, and erosion. The soil ecosystem provides services necessary to manage and maintain a healthy and stable planet. Soil is key to carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, water purification, and waste treatment. The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) has ...

  • Effects of chemical fertiliser and animal manure on soil health compared

    Fertilising crops with cattle manure can lead to better soil quality than when synthetic fertiliser is used, recent research indicates. The use of cattle manure in the study led to greater soil fertility by encouraging higher microbial activity, and the researchers suggest that it could potentially improve soil’s ability to cope with periods of difficult growing conditions. The ...

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