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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Morris, Minnesota » Soil Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #108518


item Carpenter Boggs, Lynne

Submitted to: Proceedings of the Conference on Exploring Organic Alternatives
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/16/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: A rich mollic topsoil with 5% organic matter (OM) will have about 7.5 tons of organisms per hectare. Soil supports such a massive biota because it provides many habitat niches that vary in scale, aeration, pH, and nutrient status. Many of the basic processes that support plant and animal life are mediated by soil organisms. It is important that the abundant life of soil lbe diverse because the tasks it must perform are also diverse. Soil organisms must be symbionts to diverse plants, bioremediators of many potential pollutants, and the source of diverse antibiotics and biocontrol agents. Many agricultural technological advances such as monocropping and broad-spectrum pesticides and fumigants have decreased biodiversity on farms. Biodiversity can be enhanced in agroecosystems by enhancing habitat diversity and permanence at many physical levels. Biodiversity becomes greater (and pest buildup is less likely) with more complex rotations, a greater diversity of vegetation in non-cropped areas on and around farms, perennial crops or other continuous ground cover, and high quality soil. Diversity among farms will be greatest if locally appropriate cropping and livestock systems are developed instead of applying "one-size-fits-all" agriculture to naturally diverse regions. The greatest biodiversity results from the greatest diversity of habitats. To preserve diverse natural areas, human populations must be supported by productive agriculture. Conversely, the human population and its resource use must balance with the ability of our agroecosystems to produce those resources. We all must realize that global biodiversity is an international public resource worth preserving, for ourselves and for future generations.