The success of shifting cultivation systems developed by subsistence farmers testifies to the resilience of the "natural" soil-plant ecosystems to recover from the offtake of nutrients in crops and loss of soil struc- ture. By contrast, the development of intensive cropping systems requires large inputs especially of nitrogen, together with phosphorus, sulphur and other essential elements in order to maintain the nutrient levels needed for abundant crop yields. As Dr. Cooke ably pointed out in his introductory lecture, the dis- coveries and experiments of the 19th century encouraged farmers in temperate zones to rely greatly on chemical fertilizers supplements. However, the work of Charles Da{win on soil mixing by earthworms and the discovery by Hellriegel and Wilfarth in 1886 that the nodules on legume roots contain colonies of symbiotic bacteria able to "capture" atmospheric nitrogen molecules to the benefit of the host plant heralded a growing realization of the importance of soil biota in fertility studies. Biological fixation of nitrogen has been the theme of many meetings and publi ations hitherto but at this Conference, convened on the delightful campus of Reading University, attention was mainly focussed on other biological processes in soil fertility. These Proceedings record the dominant themes and include six keynote addresses delivered at plenary sessions and seven introductory lectures to paper reading sessions by invited individuals plus 22 of the proferred papers, in six sections as tabled in the contents list.
  • ISBN13: 9789400961036
  • Publisher: Springer
  • Pubilcation Year: 2011
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 00436
SeriesDevelopments in Plant and Soil Sciences
Series Volume Number11
Publication DateOctober 13, 2011

Biological Processes and Soil Fertility

J Tinsley

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