Optimising land management programmes to reap benefits from the living soil (Science Daily)

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http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130812154228.htm

Soil Biodiversity Will Be Crucial to Future Land Management and Response to Climate Change

Aug. 12, 2013 — Research by scientists at The University of Manchester and Lancaster shows maintaining healthy soil biodiversity can play an important role in optimising land management programmes to reap benefits from the living soil. The findings, published in the latest edition of the journal PNAS, extend the understanding about the factors that regulate soil biodiversity.

The team says more research on soil food webs — the community of organisms living all or part of their lives in the soil — and their response to land use and climate change could also improve predictions of climate change impacts on ecosystems.

In one of the largest studies of its kind, a team of researchers from across Europe looked at soil life in 60 sites across four countries, the UK, Sweden, Greece and the Czech Republic, to assess the role of soil food webs in nutrient cycles in agricultural soils. Soil food webs describe the community of organisms living all or part of their lives in the soil and their complex living system interacting with other substances such as carbon and nitrogen. The study shows for the first time that there is a strong link between soil organisms and the overall functioning of ecosystems.

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About Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.
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