Biological Approaches to Sustainable Soil Systems

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ISBN 9781574445831
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  • Integrates soil system analysis with the strategies and methods for creating sustainable soil systems
  • Compiles the work of more than 100 international authorities representing a broad spectrum of disciplines
  • Explores soil systems in the tropics, temperate zones, and arid and semi-arid conditions
  • Relates the subject to wider social and economic issues
  • Summary

    Global agriculture is now at the crossroads. The Green Revolution of the last century is losing momentum. Rates of growth in food production are now declining, with land and water resources becoming scarcer, while world population continues to grow. We need to continue to identify and share the knowledge that will support successful and sustainable agriculture systems. These depend crucially on soil.

    Gaining international attention, Dr. Uphoff’s efforts to promote and develop sustainable agriculture was recently featured in the N.Y. Times

    Led by Norman Uphoff, internationally renowned for his proactive approach to world hunger, this volume brings together 102 experts representing 28 nations and multiple disciplines to report on achievements in sustainable soil-system management. While accepting some continuing role for chemical and other external inputs, this book presents ways in which crops can be produced cost effectively in greater abundance with lessened dependence on the exogenous resources that have driven the expansion of agriculture in the past.

    Including the work of both researchers and practitioners, this important volume

    ·         Explores soil systems in a variety of climate conditions

    ·         Discusses the importance of symbiotic relationships between plants and soil organisms, looking at crops as integral and interdependent participants in ecosystems

    ·         Seeks to reduce the distance between scientific research and technical practice

    ·         Examines related considerations such as pest and disease control, climate change, fertility restoration, and uses of monitoring and modeling

    With 50 self-contained chapters, this work provides researchers, practitioners, and policy makers with a comprehensive understanding of the science and steps needed to utilize soil systems for the long-term benefit of humankind.

    For information on the SRI, System of Rice Intensification being developed by Uphoff and others, go to

    Table of Contents


    Understanding the Functioning and Management of Soil Systems; Norman Uphoff, Andrew S. Ball, Erick C.M. Fernandes, Hans Herren, Olivier Husson, Cheryl Palm, Jules Pretty, Nteranya Sanginga, Janice E. Thies
    Soil System Management in the Humid and Subhumid Tropics; Ana Primavesi
    Soil System Management in Temperate Regions; G. Philip Robertson, A. Stuart Grandy
    Soil System Management under Arid and Semi-Arid Conditions; Richard J. Thomas, Hanadi El-Dessougi, Ashraf Tubeileh

    Soil Agents and Processes

    The Soil Habitat and Soil Ecology; Thies, Julie M. Grossman
    Energy Inputs in Soil Systems; Ball
    The Rhizosphere: Contributions of the Soil – Root Interface to Sustainable Soil Systems; Volker Römheld, Günter Neumann
    The Natural Rhizobium – Cereal Crop Association as an Example of Plant – Bacteria Interaction; Frank B. Dazzo, Youssef G. Yanni
    The Roles of Arbuscular Mycorrihizas in Plant and Soil Health; Mitiku Habte
    Moving Up within the Food Web: Protozoa and Nematodes; Gregor W. Yeates, Tony Pattison
    Soil Fauna Impacts on Soil Physical Properties; Elisée Oué draogo, Abdoulaye Mando, Lijbert Brussaard
    Biological Nitrogen Fixation in Agroecosystems and in Plant Roots; Robert M. Boddey, Bruno J.R. Alves, Veronica M. Reis, Segundo Urquiaga
    Enhancing Phosphorus Availability in Low-Fertility Soils; Benjamin L. Turner, Emmanuel Frossard, Astrid Oberson
    Phytohormones: Microbial Production and Applications; Azeem Khalid, Muhammad Arshad, Zahir Ahmad Zahir
    Crop Genetic Responses to Management: Evidence of Root – Shoot Communication; Autar K. Mattoo, Aref Abdul-Baki
    Allelopathy and Its Influence in Soil Systems; Suzette R. Bezuidenhout, Mark Laing
    Animals as Part of Soil Systems; Alice N. Pell

    Strategies and Methods

    Integrated Soil Fertility Management in Africa: From Knowledge to Implementation; Bernard Vanlauwe, Joshua J. Ramisch, Nteranya Sanginga
    Managing Soil Fertility and Nutrient Cycles through Fertilizer Trees in Southern Africa; Paramu L. Mafongoya, Elias Kuntashula, Gudeta Sileshi
    Biological Soil Fertility Management for Tree-Crop Agroforestry; Götz Schroth, Ulrike Krauss
    Restoring Productivity to Degraded Pasture Lands in the Amazon through Agroforestry Practices; Fernandes, Elisa Wandelli, Rogerio Perin, Silas Garcia
    Direct-Seeded Tropical Soil Systems with Permanent Soil Cover: Learning from Brazilian Experience; Lucien Séguy, Serge Bouzinac, Husson
    Restoration of Acid Soil Systems through Agroecological Management; Husson, Séguy, Roger Michellon, Stéphane Boulakia
    Conservation Agriculture and Its Applications in South Asia; Peter Hobbs, Raj Gupta, Craig Meisner
    Managing Soil Fertility on Small Family Farms in African Drylands; Michael Mortimore
    Restoring Soil Fertility in Semi-Arid West Africa: Assessment of an Indigenous Technology; Mando, Dougbedji Fatondji, Robert Zougmoré, Brussaard, Charles L. Bielders, Christopher Martius
    Leguminous Biological Nitrogen Fixation in Sustainable Tropical Agroecosystems; Robert M. Boddey, Alves, Urquiaga
    Soil Biological Contributions to the System of Rice Intensification; Robert Randriamiharisoa, Joeli Barison, Uphoff
    Contributions of Managed Fallows to Soil Fertility Recovery; Erika Styger, Fernandes
    Green Manure/Cover Crops for Recuperating Soils and Maintaining Soil Fertility in the Tropics; Roland Bunch
    Compost and Vermicompost as Amendments Promoting Soil Health; Allison L.H. Jack, Thies
    Practical Applications of Bacterial Biofertilizers and Biostimulators; Rafael Martinez Viera, Bernardo Dibut Alvarez
    Inoculation and Management of Mycorrhizal Fungi within Tropical Agroecosystems; Ramon Rivera, Felix Fernandez
    Trichoderma: An Ally in the Quest for Soil System Sustainability; Brendon Neumann, Laing
    Evaluation of Crop Production Systems Based on Locally Available Biological Inputs; O.P. Rupela, C.L.L. Gowda, S.P. Wani, Hameeda Bee
    Bio-Char Soil Management on Highly Weathered Soils in the Humid Tropics; Johannes Lehmann, Marco Rondon
    Improving Phosphorus Fertility in Tropical Soils through Biological Interventions; Astrid Oberson, Else K. Bünemann, Dennis K. Friesen, Idupulapati M. Rao, Paul C. Smithson, Benjamin L. Turne, Emmanuel Frossard
    Profile Modification as a Means of Soil Improvement: Promoting Root Health through Deep Tillage; Nico Labuschagne, Deon Joubert
    Rhizosphere Management as Part of Intercropping and Rice–Wheat Rotation Systems; Liu Xuejun, Li Long, Zhang Fusuo
    Managing Polycropping to Enhance Soil System Productivity: A Case Study from Africa; Zeyaur Khan, Ahmed Hassanali, John Pickett

    Related Issues

    Effects of Soil and Plant Management on Crop Pests and Diseases; Alain Ratnadass, Michellon, Richard Randriamanantsoa, Séguy
    Revegetating Inert Soils with the Use of Microbes; Gail Papli, Laing
    Impacts of Climate on Soil Systems and of Soil Systems on Climate; Rattan Lal
    Economic and Policy Contexts for the Biological Management of Soil Fertility; Sara J. Scherr
    Village-Level Production and Use of Biocontrol Agents and Biofertilizers; B. Selvamukilan, R. Rengalakshmi, P. Tamizoli, Sudha Nair
    Measuring and Assessing Soil Biological Properties; Thies
    Approaches to Monitoring Soil Systems; David Wolfe
    Modeling Possibilities for the Assessment of Soil Systems; Ball, Diego De la Rosa
    Opportunities for Overcoming Productivity Constraints with Biologically-Based Approaches; Uphoff
    Issues for More Sustainable Soil System Management; Uphoff, Ball, Fernandes, Herren, Husson, Palm, Pretty, Sanginga, Thies

    Editorial Reviews

    “This book includes the work of both researchers and practitioners from around the world. It explores problems and solutions for sustainable soli-system management in a variety of climatic conditions. The text is thorough and detailed, and discusses the importance of symbiotic relationships between plants and soil organisms, looking at crops as integral and interdependent participants in ecosystems. … The different chapters look at innovation in soil system strategies in tropical and temperate regions, and present a variety of ways to produce more crops with less dependence on external inputs.”
    — In LEISA Magazine, Pages 32 & 33, December 2006

    “For an ever-green revolution, we need, first and foremost, to have sustainable soil systems. … It is in this context that Biological Approaches to Sustainable Soil Systems is an extremely timely and valuable contribution to a wider understanding of what needs to be done for the sake of a truly modern agriculture and for the sake of future generations. …The book provides the scientific basis for low external-input agriculture. Soil health is treated in a holistic manner involving attention to the physics, chemistry, and microbiology of soil systems. The various chapters could help scientists chart out and embark on a program of soil breeding for high productivity. Such initiatives for sustainable agriculture should receive as much attention as crop breeding has been given if we are to promote advances in productivity in perpetuity without adverse ecological consequences.” 
    — From the foreword by M.S. Swaminathan, World Food Prize Laureate, Co-chair, UN’s Millenium Task Force on Poverty and Hunger

    "… The complexity of soil systems leads to discussions from different disciplines reminiscent of the tale of the three blind men describing an elephant: radically different views limited to observations of a small piece of the whole. ... moves toward integrating these often disparate perspectives on soils with a distinctly practical social aim: to modify agricultural practices to reduce environmental degradation and increase food security, based on improved scientific understanding of soil systems. …a cross between a general soil ecoagriculture textbook and a compendium of applied research, coupled with take-home messages for the practitioner… chapters are written for the non-expert, and are well cross-referenced, which illustrates the tight coupling among the subjects, and points the reader to additional references. … presents a myriad of applications and syntheses on biological soil management from around the world. …This book introduces the broad range of topics and advancements that will form the foundation for biological soil management in the future. …appropriate as a primer and general reference for the agricultural benefits of biological soil management for non-experts across a variety of disciplines, from policy to enlightened practitioners to academics. Graduate students and researchers with an interest in social impacts of science will benefit from the succinct background chapters linked with international field-based experimental research, and will find plenty of potential research directions highlighted as gaps in the current knowledge base."

    —Karen W. Holmes, in Landscape Ecology, 2008