Tag Archives: Soil

Can biochar be used in effectively managing soil acidity?

What Causes Soil Acidity?

A recent article (Dai et al., 2017) reviewed how biochars can be used to decrease soil acidity. Approximately 50% of global arable land has a pH value < 5.5 and is considered acid. Soil acidification occurs by:

  • Acid deposition;
  • Removal of farm products; and
  • Application of ammonium-based fertilizers.

Soil acidity increases toxic metal availability, especially aluminum and manganese, and reduce nutrient availability including phosphorus, base cations (potassium, calcium, magnesium), and molybdenum.

Biochars Effect on Reducing Soil Acidity

Biochars have been shown to consistently elevate soil pH Continue reading Can biochar be used in effectively managing soil acidity?

Remineralization – what Mars and a Volcano can tell us about improving our food

Soil remineralization has been in the popular science news recently.  Remineralization uses natural minerals to improve soil health and produce nutritious food.

Remineralization Lessons from The Martian

Martian Remineralization
In the film ‘The Martian’ (shown) Matt Damon’s character grows potatoes in a controlled environment – researchers in Denmark suggest that this is feasible.

In a nod to The Martian, researchers from the Netherlands have successfully grown food in soil analogous to Martian soil.  With organic matter, crops grow well on Mars and moon soil simulant, and there is no evidence of increased metal uptake from these soils.

Remineralization Lessons from a Volcano

Continue reading Remineralization – what Mars and a Volcano can tell us about improving our food

Biochar and Antibiotics in Soil

Can Biochar Help Manage the Fate of Veterinary Antibiotics in Livestock Farming?

Biochar and Antibiotics
Fate of veterinary antibiotics used in livestock industry

In a recent review article by Tasho and Cho (2016) on the fate of veterinary antibiotics in livestock farming, it was noted that these chemicals are relatively persistence in the environment.  Limiting the movement of these biosolids in the environment can be a challenge because of the varying physiological interactions.  Electron irradiation and supervised inoculation of beneficial microorganisms have been proposed as effective remediation strategies.

Biochar and Antibiotics

Mitchell et al. (2015) reviewed biochar as a strategy to sequester antibiotic residues in the environment.  Twenty-seven different biochars found that matrial prepared at higher pyrolysis temperatures (>500˚C) absorbed the antibiotics with greater efficiency compared with lower preparation temperatures. Continue reading Biochar and Antibiotics in Soil

Soil: The Foundation of Mineral Nutrition and Optimal Health

Soil The Foundation of Mineral Nutrition

Soil as the Foundation of Mineral Nutrition
Link between soils, food and human health

The FAO recently published a great infographic in the link between soil health-plant health-human health, the basis of mineral nutrition.  Animal scientists and veterinarians have known this for years and I have been studying the importance of soil mineral nutrition for almost 2 decades.

In 2004, I was fortunate to spend time with Dr Joel Wallach, a veterinarian and naturopathic doctor when he was lecturing in Australia.  This meeting brought to life the intricate link between soil health-plant health-human health.  I was able to interview him at that time and I was reminded of this interview after reviewing the FAO infographic. If you are interested in this interview, you can sign up for the audios by filling out the form below. Continue reading Soil: The Foundation of Mineral Nutrition and Optimal Health

Soil Management Strategies Mitigate Extreme Weather

Can Soil Management Strategies Mitigate Extreme Weather?

mississippi floodsWritten just 2 years after Hurricane Katrina hit, Manale (2007) describes the importance of soil carbon in flood control:

What does soil carbon have in common with Hurricane Katrina, ….the Great Upper Mississippi Flood of 1993, and the Red River Flood of 1997?  For each of these extreme weather and flooding events, substantial investments in soil carbon, and thus soil organic matter in upland and coastal soils, could have saved the public both trouble and money.” Continue reading Soil Management Strategies Mitigate Extreme Weather

Soil and Gut Microbial Relationship

Why we need to understand soil microbial health and gut microbial health

A scanning electron micrograph of branching hyphave that embrace and penetrate a mineral particle. Fungi seem to enter the particle at upper right and center right. Scale bar = 10 micrometers. Fig. 1b from Landweert et al. 2001.

I came across a book review for The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health in The Guardian this weekend.  I have started reading the book and will summarize my thoughts in another blog when I am finished.  However a couple of points I agreed with in The Guardian article – The scientists whose garden unlocked the secret to good health: Continue reading Soil and Gut Microbial Relationship

A Review of Biochar for Sustainable Soil Health

A Review of Biochar for Sustainable Soil Health

A recent article published in Pedosphere in October (Lone et al. 2015) gives a great summary review of the relationship between biochar and soil sustainability.  The article can be downloaded here.   The following is a summary of points made in the article. Continue reading A Review of Biochar for Sustainable Soil Health

Updating Soil Carbon Models to Include the Effect of Soil Erosion

Soil is considered a major store of soil containing more than three times the organic carbon in the atmosphere (Lal, 2003).  Land surface models only account for the effects of net primary production and heterotrophic respiration (King et al., 1997).  An article published this week in Nature Climate Change (Chappell et al., 2015) has proposed that SOC flux should include losses (and gains) due to soil erosion (and deposition).  Looking at several long-term experimental plots in Australia, and estimating net soil erosion using three approaches, the results were incorporated into RothC (a model for the turnover of organic carbon in topsoil) to estimate net C flux with and without soil erosion.  Using this approach, the model showed a consistent under-estimate of net C flux in the presence of soil erosion.

When this approach was adopted across the long-term plots in Australia, Continue reading Updating Soil Carbon Models to Include the Effect of Soil Erosion