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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR ARID RANGELANDS

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Sustainable soils: Introduction

Authors
item Six, Johan -
item HERRICK, JEFFREY

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: September 21, 2011
Publication Date: August 30, 2012
Citation: Six, J., Herrick, J.E. 2012. Sustainable soils: Introduction. In: Wall, D.H., Bardgett, R.D., Behan-Pelletier, V., Herrick, J.E., Jones, H., Ritz, K., Six, J., Strong, D.R., van der Putten, W.H., editors. Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services. Oxford University Press, UK. p. 299-300. Available: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199575923.do.

Interpretive Summary: The six chapters in the final section of the book address the role of soil biota in a wider context of maintaining soil resources for sustaining the earth’s capacity to provide critical ecosystem services. This is quite possibly the most important, and frequently overlooked, function that soil biota provide. Without soil biota, the soil resource as we know it would not exist, and soil recovery in most ecosystems would proceed at orders of magnitude less than a snail’s pace. Net primary productivity would be dramatically reduced by much slower rates of nutrient cycling, and therefore lower plant nutrient availability and nutrient effects would be exacerbated by water limitations as the lack of a stable soil structure would maintain relatively low plant available water holding capacities and even lower infiltration rates. Together, these chapters provide a summary of current knowledge and remaining challenges to identify, measure and generalize the importance of soil biota for sustaining soil resources and their related ecosystem services in agroecosystems.

Technical Abstract: The six chapters in the final section of the book address the role of soil biota in a wider context of maintaining soil resources for sustaining the earth’s capacity to provide critical ecosystem services. This is quite possibly the most important, and frequently overlooked, function that soil biota provide. Without soil biota, the soil resource as we know it would not exist, and soil recovery in most ecosystems would proceed at orders of magnitude less than a snail’s pace. Net primary productivity would be dramatically reduced by much slower rates of nutrient cycling, and therefore lower plant nutrient availability and nutrient effects would be exacerbated by water limitations as the lack of a stable soil structure would maintain relatively low plant available water holding capacities and even lower infiltration rates. Together, these chapters provide a summary of current knowledge and remaining challenges to identify, measure and generalize the importance of soil biota for sustaining soil resources and their related ecosystem services in agroecosystems.

Last Modified: 8/19/2014