In a new report released by the Society for Microbiology, experts from across the United Kingdom and Ireland urged microbiologists to connect with farmers and other stakeholders to improve soil health.
There are an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 species of microorganisms per gram of soil. Adding some microbes can adapt soil properties: remove pollutants, improve fertility and even make arid lands available for farming.
The Society for Microbiology report calls for increased access to research in soil health, strengthened outreach activities in colleges and agricultural schools and the offer of work in non-academic outlets. This, microbiologists say, is the best way to collaborate with farmers to improve soil health and agricultural productivity.
Tillage and excessive use of fertilizers have major impacts on soil health. Microbiology can be used to help understand the impact of intensive cultivation and design possible mitigation practices.
The report highlights collaboration with farmers as a key to improving soil health, and sustainable soil management practices should be designed with agricultural requirements and practices in mind. The report says sustainable soil management must be stimulated, and research findings must be affordable and ready for use on farms.
The UK is estimated to be 30 to 40 years away from a “fundamental elimination of soil fertility” and the United Nations has warned that if current rates of degradation are not reversed, there may be fewer than 60 crops left in the world’s soil.
The European Union has raised soil health as one of its top five priorities and there are many global initiatives emerging in the field of soil protection. The UK should take advantage of this growing profile to unite active communities that work together to improve the uptake and development of new sustainable land management practices.
The full report, including case studies and opinion articles from the leading experts in the field is free to read at: https://www.facebook.com/
The related editorial, “The Challenges and Opportunities of Microbiology in Soil Health”, written by Dr. Gertie Van Keulin, is available for reading in the journal. microbiology.