• UK researchers are investigating the extent to which aeroponic production could help climate change-damaged farming.

  • Scientists at New Mexico State University have developed a way to use a smartphone camera and some 3D-printed tools to measure soil density.

  • By tweaking the genes of microbes in the soil, it may be possible to make arid ecosystems more resilient to climate change and overgrazing, according to a new study.

  • Keeping the soil covered is a fundamental principle of CA. Crop residues are left on the soil surface, but cover crops may be needed if the gap is too long between harvesting one crop and establishing the next.

  • A huge project to demonstrate the benefits of soil amelioration and controlled traffic practices in Western Australia so far shows there is a large amount of variability in the grain yield response to soil amelioration treatments.

  • FEW technologies are being introduced to the agricultural industry.

  • Of all the components of soil, organic matter is probably the most important and most misunderstood.

  • Soil pH or soil reaction is an indication of the acidity or alkalinity of soil and is measured in pH units.

  • According to new research, information regarding soil health is often too generalised. Locally sourced data will help farmers use the best practices for their land.

  • In his opening address to the Savory Institute global conference in London on August 1, Alan Savory said that while agriculture is the foundation of civilization and of any stable economy, it is also, when poorly practiced, the most destructive industry—even more so than coal mining.

  • World Soil Day (WSD), 5 December is the United Nations Observance that celebrates healthy soils for a food-secure future. 

  • Idiological N2 fixation (BNF) is the process whereby certain soil bacteria (e.g. Rhizobium, Azospirillum ) use  their nitrogenase enzyme and convert atmospheric N2 into ammonia (NH3), a usable form of nitrogen (N) that plants and bacteria incorporate into proteins and nucleic acids (Unkovich et al., 2008).

    Within the legumes, this important process of BNF takes place in highly specialised structures called nodules, which contain the bacteria and are formed on the roots or stems of the plants . The acquisition of essential nutrients from the soil by plants is one of the crucial steps that not only ensures enhanced growth, but also helps maintain the proper functioning of all parts of the metabolism that ultimately secure plant health. Despite the increasing amounts of fertilizer-N being used in the production of crops, the process of biological N2 fixation by bacteria is the primary source of N for agriculture that provides one of the most limiting and very essential nutrient (N) to more than 19000 species of leguminous plants globally.

    Leguminous crops such as beans, peas, soybean, lucerne and chickpea, to mention a few, are very susceptible to various abiotic stresses caused by drought, soil acidity, salinity and metal toxicity that limit their growth. Coupled with the increasing threats of climate change effects, these abiotic stresses have huge negative impacts on the overall plant health and productivity.

    READ MORE - KEEP SOIL ALIVE PROTECT SOIL BIODIVERSITY

    Drought stress is one of the most common types of abiotic stresses caused by low moisture content in the soil. Such low moisture content poses various challenges in the legume-rhizobium symbiosis, one of which being a decrease in the nitrogen (N) derived from biological nitrogen fixation (BNF). Drought stress therefore affects both the legume plants and their symbiotic partners, the rhizobia. While the legume plants show reduced level of nodule initiation, growth and normal activity, the rhizobia respond to drought stress by having irregular morphology of cells that will eventually lead to a reduction in infection of roots and nodule formation (Zahran 1999). In line with the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH2020), various plant health related activities have been undertaken by the Agricultural Research Council, at the campus of Plant Health and Protection (ARC-PHP) based in Pretoria, South Africa.

    The Biological N2 Fixation (BNF) unit at the ARC-PHP provides different services related to biological nitrogen fixation, including research on legume-rhizobium symbiosis. One of the projects involves the screening of rhizobia with the ability to nodulate and fix atmospheric N2 in soybean under different drought stress (moisture level) conditions. The major aim of this project is to screen a wide range of rhizobia strains for nodulation of soybean (Glycine max L.) under different water stress conditions in a glasshouse trial. In this project, twenty-five different rhizobia strains deposited at the South African Rhizobium Collection (SARCC) were included Research in the screening on a single, commonly used soybean cultivar that is not drought resistant.

    Although low moisture content or drought has a negative impact on both the legume crops and their symbiotic partners (the rhizobia), it is well known that certain strains of rhizobia are capable of survival under drought stress or low water potential of up to 2 – 15% (Zahran et al., 1999). These drought tolerant rhizobia use different mechanisms to alleviate abiotic stress in soils, one of which is the production of the enzyme 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC)-deaminase.

    Upon inoculation, the ACC deaminase lowers the plant ethylene level, resulting in longer roots and providing relief from abiotic stresses like drought, salinity and metal toxicity (Goplakrishnan et al., 2014). It is therefore essential to screen rhizobia that have the ability to survive different drought stress levels and fix atmospheric N2 by forming effective nodules on the target legume host. As it stands, the screening project described above looks very promising in that a large number of the rhizobia included in the experiment have resulted in satisfactory results representative of which is indicated in Figure 1. The most effective strains (i.e. those that resulted in the formation of active pink nodules with better plant vigour) will be further screened in a field trial experiments. The ultimate aim will be the selection of elite drought tolerant rhizobia which will be developed into commercial inoculants for soybean cultivation under drought stress conditions in South Africa. 

  • This science-based guide can aid with the management and maintenance of healthy soils.

  • In a matter of a few short years, you can undo more than 100 years of work. How? For each 1” of topsoil that is eroded, it takes at least 100 years to regenerate — not to mention the organic matter and other valuable soil components that are lost.

  • South Africa is having a great start of the 2020/21 agricultural season.

  • Abbey Wick, NDSU Extension soil health specialist, and Caley Gasch, NDSU assistant professor of soil health, point out four ways to tell if soil health measures are working on your farm or ranch.

  • Over the last 150 years, the planet has lost half of its fertile topsoil. If farmers are to maintain the crop yields needed to feed our ever-growing population, then ensuring their fields receive the correct care is vital.

  • Carbon markets are already providing income to Australian and some Canadian and US farmers for trapping carbon dioxide in their soil and reducing carbon emissions on the farm.

  • When you pick up a handful of dirt from your garden, you are holding more living organisms than there are people on Earth. Underneath your feet is another world of living organisms—eating each other, fighting for resources, working together to survive.

  • Most of us don’t think much about soil, let alone its health. But as Earth Day approaches, it’s time to recommend some skin care for Mother Nature.

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