Navigation Links
Earth's soils bear unmistakable footprints of humans
Date:1/25/2008

DURHAM, N.C. -- The dirt under our feet is being so changed by humans that it is now appropriate to call this the "Anthropocene (or man-made) Age," says a new worldwide overview by Duke University soil scientist Daniel Richter.

With more than half of all soils on Earth now being cultivated for food crops, grazed, or periodically logged for wood, how to sustain Earths soils is becoming a major scientific and policy issue, Richter said. His paper appears in the December issue of the research journal Soil Science.

Societys most important scientific questions include the future of Earths soil, Richter added. "Can soils double food production in the next few decades? Is soil exacerbating the global carbon cycle and climatic warming? How can land management improve soils processing of carbon, nutrients, wastes, toxics and water, all to minimize adverse effects on the environment?"

Each of these questions require long-term observation and analysis, and we know far too little about how to answer them in much detail," he said. "We need to work to sustain soils with a greater sense of urgency.

As an example of the challenges, Richter said leading scientists are concerned that agriculture in Africa has so degraded regional soil fertility that the economic development of whole nations will be diminished without drastic improvements of soil management.

"This is an old story writ large of widespread cropping without nutrient recycling, with the result being soil infertility," he said. "And agriculture is only part of the reason why soils are so rapidly changing. Expanding cities, industries, mining and transportation systems all impact soil in ways that are far more permanent than cultivation."

"If humanity is to succeed in the coming decades, we must interact much more positively with the great diversity of Earth's soils," his Soil Science report said. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Duke's Center on Global Change.

A professor of soils and ecology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Richter and his international colleagues have recently established what is described as the first global network of long-term soil experiments, a network with an extensive web site <http://ltse.env.duke.edu>.

The network has two objectives, he said. "The first is to bring more attention to how fundamental soil is to environmental quality, the global carbon cycle, and climate change, all in addition to soil being the basis for food and fiber production."

The second objective, emphasized in the Soil Science report, "is to strengthen and renew the worlds long-term soils research sites, because those provide our best direct observations of how soils are changing on time scales of decades," he said.

One problem is that such studies have not worked together in the past. Study sites have never been comprehensively inventoried, and many operate without stable institutional support. Several highly productive long-term experiments have even been abandoned in recent years, including important studies in Africa and South America.

Despite those problems, long-term soil studies are clearly demonstrating the susceptibility of soils to change in response to land management," Richter said. "They also provide important data to model climate warming and the global carbon cycle.


'/>"/>

Contact: Monte Basgall
monte.basgall@duke.edu
919-681-8057
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. CU researcher engineers sorghum that grows in poisonous soils
2. Chemical compound present in detergents produce bacteria alterations in agricultural soils
3. New insights into the fate of antiparasitics in manure and manured soils
4. Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa commits 180M to revive farmers depleted soils
5. Gene regulation, not just genes, is what sets humans apart
6. Humans fostering forest-destroying disease
7. SRMs track fire retardants in humans and environment
8. Influence of sex and handedness on brain is similar in capuchin monkeys and humans
9. Gene regulation in humans is closer than expected to simple organisms
10. Role reversal as humans suck life out of leeches
11. Extra gene copies were enough to make early humans mouths water
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/9/2016)... 2016 Elevay is currently known ... freedom for high net worth professionals seeking travel for ... connected world, there is still no substitute for a ... sealing your deal with a firm handshake. This is ... advantage of citizenship via investment programs like those offered ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... and BANGALORE, India , April 28, ... Systems, a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: INFY ... announced a global partnership that will provide end ... use mobile banking and payment services.      (Logo: ... key innovation area for financial services, but it also plays ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... and LONDON , April 26, ... of EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of Infosys ... announced a partnership to integrate the Onegini mobile ...      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283829LOGO ) ... customers enhanced security to access and transact across ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... Calif. , June 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, ... biological discoveries to the medical community, has closed its ... Matthew Nunez . "We have received ... with the capital we need to meet our current ... essentially provide us the runway to complete validation on ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 On Wednesday, June ... 4,833.32, down 0.22%; the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 0.27% ... at 2,085.45, down 0.17%. Stock-Callers.com has initiated coverage on the ... Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NKTR ), Aralez Pharmaceuticals Inc. ... BIND ). Learn more about these stocks by ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Prairie, WI (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 ... ... consultancy focused on quality, regulatory and technical consulting, provides a free webinar ... is presented on July 13, 2016 at 12pm CT at no charge. , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 22, 2016  Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN ... QB3@953 life sciences incubator to accelerate the ... shared laboratory space at QB3@953 was created to help ... obstacle for many early stage organizations - access to ... sponsorship, Amgen launched two "Amgen Golden Ticket" awards, providing ...
Breaking Biology Technology: