Skip to main content

08 November 2019

Rice, the largest global staple crop, may be under threat from climate change-induced temperature rises and flooding causing soils to take up far more endemic arsenic. Yields could drop by 40% by 2100, and that produced with be twice as toxic. The issues also extend to other flood-grown crops.

A new study, Soil bacterial communities of wheat vary across the growing season and among dryland farming systems, has found the seasons influence the responses of soil microbe communities, alongside weed diversity and farm management systems.

Research has enlightened scientists as to how soil bacteria protect crops against a fungal disease. Soils containing the microbiota that protect plants against infection are referred to as ‘suppressive soils’. Researchers found many produce substances which break down the walls of attacking cells, whilst some also contain other antifungal properties.

Yet further research into the beneficial properties of soils for public health has shown that exposure to biodiverse soils can relieve mental ill-health due to soil bacteria with anti-anxiety properties. The study is found in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

Analysis of an extremely rare sample of Greenland’s ancient soil from the past million years suggests the ice sheet was absent and sea levels were much higher at a time when the climate was similar to that we experience today. Scientists are now hunting through macrofossils, leaf wax, mineral types, noble gases and more to answer questions about what Greenland’s ancient landscape looked like when it was last exposed.

A study published last week provides valuable insight into the role of vegetation on the evolution of soil water content in the context of climate change. It suggests changing vegetation may accelerate soil drying, and points to a future with potential issues around access to drinking water.

An analysis of over 6000 soil samples from across Northern Ireland found that only 7% were at optimum fertility levels. This guide suggests now is the time for farmers to test their soil and develop a management plan, with the help of the Farm Nutrient Management Calculator.

As a farmer, it’s essential to understand the different soil types present across your fields and to manage the types according to their differing needs. This piece describes the use of 3D soil mapping technology and precision data to achieve individualised soil management plans.

A new series of soil-related talks has launched on youtube. PED Talks cover explanations of soil health, how it can be improved, and the progress that’s being made to ensure healthy soils for the future.

The 4th Annual South Dakota Soil Health Coalition (SDSHC) Soil Health Conference will take place across 15-16 January 2020. The conference connects South Dakota’s soil stewards, supporters and advocates with regional and international soil health experts, providing the opportunity to learn and share about the importance and functions of our soils