Case studies on soil biodiversity
The importance of soil organic matter: Key to drought-resistant soil and sustained food production
Conservation agriculture (CA) can make an important contribution to the agriculture sector through its multiple environmental and economic benefits. Through effective harnessing of agro-ecological processes, CA provides an opportunity for reducing external input requirements and for converting low-input agricultural systems into more productive ones. A better understanding of the linkages between soil life and ecosystem function and the impact of human interventions will enable the reduction of negative impacts and the more effective capture of the benefits of soil biological activity for sustainable intensification.
Biological management of soil ecosystems for sustainable agriculture
The International Technical Workshop on Biological Management of Soil Ecosystems for Sustainable Agriculture was organized as a contribution to the joint programme of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and FAO in accordance with FAO’s mandate on sustainable agriculture and food security and with Decision V/5 of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD. More than 45 participants from more than 18 countries, representing a heterogeneous range of scientists and practitioners from each region, joined efforts to review and discuss the concept and practices of integrated soil management, share successful experiences and identify priorities for action.
Soil Macrofauna Field Manual: Technical Level
The activities of soil macrofauna and the biogenic structures they produce, help in the incorporation of organic materials in the soil thus restoring levels of soil organic matter and also enhancing nutrient cycling; with a positive impact on plant productivity in crop, pasture and forest lands. This manual aims to make available information on soil macrofauna and management approaches to help farmers and service providers (extension, research, nongovernmental organizations, project staff, etc) assess soil health status, and to develop adapted management practices to sustain and improve soil quality under a range of different farming systems.
Drought-resistant soils: Optimization of soil moisture for sustainable plant production
Water is the "lifeblood" of agricultural practice worldwide. However, water scarcity is a major constraint on rainfed agriculture. As well as being a consequence of low or erratic rainfall, the perceived water scarcity may be caused by choices made by the farmer, e.g. of a crop or variety sensitive to water stress, or by inadequate management of available water from rainfall. The present volume contains an analytical summary of the electronic conference “Drought-resistant soils: optimization of soil moisture for sustainable plant production”.
Soil biodiversity management for sustainable and productive agriculture: Lessons from case studies
There is a need to develop greater knowledge of soil ecosystems, and their biological diversity and ecological functions, in order to build a broad basis for sustainable agricultural development. This paper represents a select review of case studies on the management of soil biological diversity for agricultural purposes. Of particular interest is the relevance of each study to the 12 guiding principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Ecosystem Approach, and the four thematic areas of the CBD/Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Programme of Work on Agricultural Biological Diversity.
Restoring soil fertility and enhancing productivity in Indian tea plantations with earthworms and organic fertilizers
The long-term exploitation of soil under the tea gardens in Southern India (where many estates are >100 years old) has led to impoverishment of soil fertility and stabilization of yields, despite increasing application of external inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. Some of the soil degradative processes include: decreasing organic matter contents; lower cation exchange; reduced water-holding capacity; loss in important soil biota; acidification; increases in toxic aluminum concentrations; compaction of the soil surface; soil erosion; leaching of nutrients; and accumulation of toxins from tea leaves.
Managing termites and organic resources to improve soil productivity in the Sahel
Termites, widespread and abundant in drier areas in the tropics, are not only pests, but can also play an important beneficial role in recovering degraded ecosystems. They are a resource that can be used and managed, together with locally available organic resources, to counteract land degradation through their soil burrowing and feeding activities. In the Sahel, the combined effect of soil organic matter depletion, primary production decrease due to mismanagement of the fragile ecosystem, and the harsh climatic conditions has resulted in the expansion of crusted soils.
Successful farmer-to-farmer promotion of sustainable crop and soil management practices in Mexico
Soils in the state of Tlaxcala, Mexico have been under cultivation for thousands of years (Gliessman, 1990). Nevertheless, recent intensive farming practices, especially on sloping terrains, have eroded and degraded soils on a statewide level. Deep gullies scour significant portions of the landscape, complicating water catchment, silting rivers and degrading natural and agricultural ecosystems. Tepetates, severely eroded areas characterized by hardened, exposed subsoil completely devoid of topsoil, are common.
Overview and Case studies on Biological Nitrogen Fixation: Perspectives and Limitations
Nitrogen is an essential plant nutrient. Nitrogen can be supplied to crops by biological nitrogen fixation (BNF), a process which is becoming more important for not only reducing energy costs, but also in seeking more sustainable agricultural production. Nitrogen fixing micro-organisms could therefore be an important component of sustainable agricultural systems. The objective of this paper was to explore and discuss the possibilities for enhancing N2 fixation by working on the plant host, the microbial symbiont and management of different agronomic methods.