Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Soil science: Healing our planet's ills from the ground up

Date:
February 9, 2011
Source:
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Summary:
Soil depletion hastened the collapse of at least one society, the Greeks, and contributed to economic hardship as recently as the last century in the Great Plains of the United States. With climate change and population growth affecting the services provided by soil, a team of scientists say more attention should be paid to protecting and rejuvenating soil. Strategies for doing so include refocusing and boosting research, and communicating its importance to the public.

Climate change and population growth will affect soil's health and its ability to support Earth's many inhabitants.
Credit: Sheila Torgunrud

Under our feet and ubiquitous, lowly soil can be easily overlooked when it comes to addressing climate change and population growth. But in the January-February issue of the Soil Science Society of America Journal, a team of scientists say soil is an essential piece of the biosphere and more attention should be paid to protecting it. Strategies for doing so include refocusing and boosting research, and communicating its importance to the public.

Related Articles


"The article is a call to better engage with each other and with those concerned about the coming stresses to the planet," said soil scientist Cesar Izaurralde of the Joint Global Change Research Institute in College Park, Md., a collaboration between the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., and the University of Maryland. "A better understanding of soils is needed to help us weather the changes, many of which will be around for future generations to contend with."

While people don't think much about soil, it quietly and continuously services life on Earth. Soil provides the basis for food and fiber production; it supports a diversity of plant, animal, and microbial life; it regulates nutrient cycles and gas exchange with the atmosphere; it cultures our inner feelings for home, for place, for renewal of spirit.

However, changes occurring to our planet are affecting the services provided by soil. Whether these changes are natural or stimulated by the activities of an ever-increasing population, there is an urgent need to rejuvenate the essential services provided by soil. After all, soil depletion has hastened the collapse of at least one society, the Greeks, and contributed to economic hardship as recently as the last century in the Great Plains of the United States.

The international team of researchers suggest how soil scientists and others can work together to devise strategies to save the soil for the benefit of the planet, the people that inhabit it now and in the future, and all other life that depends on human stewardship.

Representing the 2008 Emerging Issues in Soil Science Committee of the Soil Science Society of America, this team defined some of the most urgent questions that humanity will be facing in coming decades and explored ways that research in soil science might help address those questions.

In their broad discussion, the scientists address eight critical issues: demands for food, water, nutrients, and energy, and the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, biological waste recycling, and global resource equity.

For example, feeding the burgeoning population will require planning to protect the soil and environment, and managing soil can help people use dwindling pools of freshwater more wisely. Nutrients in the soil can be depleted, so it will be important to preserve soil's fertility while improving harvests. Climate change will undoubtedly affect the productivity and resilience of soil, and soil underpins the biodiversity of organisms large and small. Using soils to recycle biological wastes has the potential to replenish our invaluable renewable resources. Finally, soil is the skin of the planet Earth and as such must be viewed as a global resource managed locally.

The authors recommend four steps soil scientists should take to address these critical issues. They include refocusing research to the most urgent problems, broadening their vision from soil to entire ecosystems, enticing young scientists to pursue careers in the field, and improving soil science's image problem with better stories of its past successes and future prospects.

The conversations the researchers hope to elicit may help direct soil science toward greater relevance in preserving our fragile home on this changing planet.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. H. H. Janzen, P.E. Fixen, A. J. Franzluebbers, J. Hattey, R. C. Izaurralde, Q. M. Ketterings, D. A. Lobb, W. H. Schlesinger. Global Prospects Rooted in Soil Science. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 2011; 75 (1): 1 DOI: 10.2136/sssaj2009.0216

Cite This Page:

DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Soil science: Healing our planet's ills from the ground up." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110209151312.htm>.
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. (2011, February 9). Soil science: Healing our planet's ills from the ground up. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110209151312.htm
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Soil science: Healing our planet's ills from the ground up." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110209151312.htm (accessed April 21, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Going Ape: Sierra Leone Chimpanzees Hail Ebola Retreat

Going Ape: Sierra Leone Chimpanzees Hail Ebola Retreat

AFP (Apr. 21, 2015) As money runs out at Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leone, around 85 chimps are facing homelessness. The centre closed when the Ebola epidemic was ravaging the country but now that closure is beginning to look permanent. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blue Bell Recalls All Products

Blue Bell Recalls All Products

AP (Apr. 21, 2015) Blue Bell Creameries voluntary recalled for all of its products after two samples of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream tested positive for listeria, a potentially deadly bacteria. Blue Bell&apos;s President and CEO issued a video statement. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Research Says Complex Tools Might Not Be 'Our Thing' Anymore

Research Says Complex Tools Might Not Be 'Our Thing' Anymore

Newsy (Apr. 21, 2015) The use of complex tools has often been seen as a defining characteristic of humanity, but that notion is now in question. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deepwater And Dolphins: The Oil Spill's Impact 5 Years On

Deepwater And Dolphins: The Oil Spill's Impact 5 Years On

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2015) Five years on, the possible environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill includes a sustained die-off of bottlenose dolphins, among others. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins