While soil ecologists continue to be on the forefront of research on biodiversity and ecosystem function, there are few interdisciplinary studies that incorporate ecological knowledge into sustainable land management practices. Conventional, high fossil-fuel input-based agricultural systems can reduce soil biodiversity, alter soil community structure and nutrient cycling, and lead to greater dependence on energy-intensive practices.
Microbial Ecology in Sustainable Agroecosystems brings together soil ecologists, microbial ecologists, and agroecologists working globally to demonstrate how research in soil ecology can contribute to the long-term sustainability of agricultural systems. The book identifies five key areas of research that can be combined to support and direct sustainable land management practices: agriculture, biodiversity, ecosystem services, integrated soil ecology research, and policy.
- A broad range of soil microbial processes in terms of the importance of microbial heterogeneity
- Inputs by soil microorganisms into wheat-farming systems
- The importance of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in making nutrients more available to crops
- The benefits and environmental problems associated with the use of crops genetically modified with Bacillus thuringiensis
- The incorporation of soil ecological or microbial ecological theory into agricultural practice to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability
- Challenges in sustainable agricultural research and the need for coalescing new avenues of research in agriculture and soil ecology
The contributors range from long-time ecological researchers to graduate students and early career scientists, representing a wide spectrum of experience, ages, diversity, and research interests in this area. They cover the diversity and complexity of microbial activity and interactions in soil systems and the many ways in which microorganisms may be manipulated and managed to improve the functions of crop rhizospheres and thereby maximize crop yields and overall productivity. These recommendations can be used to direct and influence agricultural and environmental policy and guide future research in sustainable agricultural systems management.
Table of Contents
Soil ecology and agroecosystem studies: A dynamic and diverse world
David C. Coleman, Vadakattu V.S.R. Gupta, and John C. Moore
Manipulation of beneficial microorganisms in crop rhizospheres
Richard P. Dick
The influence of heterogeneity on soil microbial processes in agroecosystems: Theory, evidence, and opportunities
T. D. Loecke
Soil food webs in agricultural ecosystems
John C. Moore and Peter C. de Ruiter
Community composition of soil organisms under different wheat farming systems
Klaus Birkhofer, T. Martijn Bezemer, Katarina Hedlund, and Heikki Setälä
The biological basis for nitrogen management in agroecosystems
A. Stuart Grandy, Cynthia Kallenbach, Terry D. Loecke, Sieglinde S. Snapp, and Richard G. Smith
The contribution of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to the success or failure of agricultural practices
David D. Douds Jr. and Rita Seidel
Effects of the cultivation of genetically modified Bt crops on nontarget soil organisms
Tanya E. Cheeke
Maize legume relay intercrops in Malawi: Meeting short- and long-term sustainability goals
Carol Shennan and Dorothy Sirrine
Making soil biodiversity matter for agriculture: Ecosystem services and challenges
Diana H. Wall
Tanya Cheeke is an affiliate of the Department of Biology at Portland State University, Oregon, USA.
David C. Coleman is an affiliate of Odum School of Ecology at University of Georgia, Athens, USA.
Diana H. Wall is an affiliate of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, USA.