Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Soil management in relation to sustainable agriculture and ecosystem services

Contents:

Author Info

  • Powlson, D.S.
  • Gregory, P.J.
  • Whalley, W.R.
  • Quinton, J.N.
  • Hopkins, D.W.
  • Whitmore, A.P.
  • Hirsch, P.R.
  • Goulding, K.W.T.
Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    Requirements for research, practices and policies affecting soil management in relation to global food security are reviewed. Managing soil organic carbon (C) is central because soil organic matter influences numerous soil properties relevant to ecosystem functioning and crop growth. Even small changes in total C content can have disproportionately large impacts on key soil physical properties. Practices to encourage maintenance of soil C are important for ensuring sustainability of all soil functions. Soil is a major store of C within the biosphere – increases or decreases in this large stock can either mitigate or worsen climate change. Deforestation, conversion of grasslands to arable cropping and drainage of wetlands all cause emission of C; policies and international action to minimise these changes are urgently required. Sequestration of C in soil can contribute to climate change mitigation but the real impact of different options is often misunderstood. Some changes in management that are beneficial for soil C, increase emissions of nitrous oxide (a powerful greenhouse gas) thus cancelling the benefit. Research on soil physical processes and their interactions with roots can lead to improved and novel practices to improve crop access to water and nutrients. Increased understanding of root function has implications for selection and breeding of crops to maximise capture of water and nutrients. Roots are also a means of delivering natural plant-produced chemicals into soil with potentially beneficial impacts. These include biocontrol of soil-borne pests and diseases and inhibition of the nitrification process in soil (conversion of ammonium to nitrate) with possible benefits for improved nitrogen use efficiency and decreased nitrous oxide emission. The application of molecular methods to studies of soil organisms, and their interactions with roots, is providing new understanding of soil ecology and the basis for novel practical applications. Policy makers and those concerned with development of management approaches need to keep a watching brief on emerging possibilities from this fast-moving area of science. Nutrient management is a key challenge for global food production: there is an urgent need to increase nutrient availability to crops grown by smallholder farmers in developing countries. Many changes in practices including inter-cropping, inclusion of nitrogen-fixing crops, agroforestry and improved recycling have been clearly demonstrated to be beneficial: facilitating policies and practical strategies are needed to make these widely available, taking account of local economic and social conditions. In the longer term fertilizers will be essential for food security: policies and actions are needed to make these available and affordable to small farmers. In developed regions, and those developing rapidly such as China, strategies and policies to manage more precisely the necessarily large flows of nutrients in ways that minimise environmental damage are essential. A specific issue is to minimise emissions of nitrous oxide whilst ensuring sufficient nitrogen is available for adequate food production. Application of known strategies (through either regulation or education), technological developments, and continued research to improve understanding of basic processes will all play a part. Decreasing soil erosion is essential, both to maintain the soil resource and to minimise downstream damage such as sedimentation of rivers with adverse impacts on fisheries. Practical strategies are well known but often have financial implications for farmers. Examples of systems for paying one group of land users for ecosystem services affecting others exist in several parts of the world and serve as a model.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306919210001399
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Food Policy.

    Volume (Year): 36 (2011)
    Issue (Month): S1 ()
    Pages: S72-S87

    as in new window
    Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:36:y:2011:i:s1:p:s72-s87

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/foodpol

    Related research

    Keywords: Soil; Organic matter; Carbon; Sequestration; Nutrients; Nitrogen; Nitrous oxide; Phosphorous; Minimum tillage; Biodiversity; Soil organisms; Roots; Soil structure; Aggregates; Rhizosphere; Erosion; Biochar;

    References

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    1. Okeyo, A.I. & Mucheru-Muna, M. & Mugwe, J. & Ngetich, K.F. & Mugendi, D.N. & Diels, J. & Shisanya, C.A., 2014. "Effects of selected soil and water conservation technologies on nutrient losses and maize yields in the central highlands of Kenya," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 52-58.
    2. repec:idb:brikps:64718 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Smith, Helen F. & Sullivan, Caroline A., 2014. "Ecosystem services within agricultural landscapes—Farmers' perceptions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 72-80.
    4. Wassenaar, T. & Doelsch, E. & Feder, F. & Guerrin, F. & Paillat, J.-M. & Thuriès, L. & Saint Macary, H., 2014. "Returning Organic Residues to Agricultural Land (RORAL) – Fuelling the Follow-the-Technology approach," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 60-69.

    Lists

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:36:y:2011:i:s1:p:s72-s87. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.