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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Agroecosystems Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #287971


Location: Agroecosystems Management Research

Title: Quantifying the linkages among soil health, organic farming, and food

item Cambardella, Cynthia - Cindy

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/14/2012
Publication Date: 10/24/2012
Citation: Cambardella, C.A. 2012. Quantifying the linkages among soil health, organic farming, and food. American Society of Agronomy Annual Meetings [abstracts], Oct. 21-24, 2012, Cincinnati, OH. CD-ROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Organic farming systems utilize organic amendments, diverse crop rotations and cover crops to promote soil fertility and enhance soil health. These practices increase biologically available forms of soil organic matter, and increase the activities of beneficial soil microbes and invertebrates. Physical properties such as bulk density, aggregate stability, water infiltration and moisture holding capacity are enhanced through the use of organic amendments. Soil organic matter and organic amendments increase soil cation exchange capacity and act as slow release nutrient sources, reducing risks of excess nutrient loss to the environment. Consumers of organic produce are particularly interested in potential health benefits of organic food. A connection between healthy soil and healthy food seems reasonable to assume but, defining this linkage remains a challenging ongoing area of research. Comparisons of nutritional quality between organic and conventional food have produced inconclusive results due to inadequate study design and the inherent complexity of farming systems. Nevertheless, recently emerging evidence suggests organically grown fruit and vegetables might contain higher levels of health promoting phytochemicals. Ultimately, determining key management practices associated with enhanced phenolic and antioxidant activity for maximum health benefits remains an important goal in producing high quality produce for specialty markets. Quantifying the linkages among soil health, organic farming and food requires active collaborations across traditional discipline boundaries. Collaborations such as these are increasingly common at the funding level; however, professional societies still remain largely discipline based. It is the goal of this proposed Symposium to bring together scientists from disciplines not normally present at the American Society of Agronomy. Not only will this allow for cross cutting presentations, it will foster new collaborations in a research area of interest to the organic production systems community.