Soil is the material in the top layer of the surface of the earth in which plants can grow (especially with reference to its quality or use). The part of the earth's surface consisting of humus, disintegrated rock and a mixture of minerals, organic matter, gases, liquids, and countless organisms that together support life on Earth. Soil is a natural body called the pedosphere which has four important functions: it is a medium for plant growth; it is a means of water storage, supply and purification; it is a modifier of Earth's atmosphere; it is a habitat for organisms; all of which, in turn, modify the soil. Sacred Sod.

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Plant in Soil in Hands Soil Science is the study of soil as a natural resource on the surface of the Earth including soil formation, classification and mapping; physical, chemical, biological, and fertility properties of soils; and these properties in relation to the use and management of soils.

Fertilizer - Fungus - Microbiology - Contamination - Testing - Water Management - Sensors - Growing Food in Space - Hydroponics

Soil Physics is the study of soil physical properties and processes. It is applied to management and prediction under natural and managed ecosystems. Soil physics deals with the dynamics of physical soil components and their phases as solid, liquids, and gases. It draws on the principles of physics, physical chemistry, engineering, and meteorology. It is especially important in this day and age because most farmers require an understanding of agroecosystems. Soil physics applies these principles to address practical problems of agriculture, ecology, and engineering.

Soil Mechanics is a branch of soil physics and applied mechanics that describes the behavior of soils. It differs from fluid mechanics and solid mechanics in the sense that soils consist of a heterogeneous mixture of fluids (usually air and water) and particles (usually clay, silt, sand, and gravel) but soil may also contain organic solids and other matter. Along with rock mechanics, soil mechanics provides the theoretical basis for analysis in geotechnical engineering, a subdiscipline of civil engineering, and engineering geology, a subdiscipline of geology. Soil mechanics is used to analyze the deformations of and flow of fluids within natural and man-made structures that are supported on or made of soil, or structures that are buried in soils. Example applications are building and bridge foundations, retaining walls, dams, and buried pipeline systems. Principles of soil mechanics are also used in related disciplines such as engineering geology, geophysical engineering, coastal engineering, agricultural engineering, hydrology and soil physics. This article describes the genesis and composition of soil, the distinction between pore water pressure and inter-granular effective stress, capillary action of fluids in the soil pore spaces, soil classification, seepage and permeability, time dependent change of volume due to squeezing water out of tiny pore spaces, also known as consolidation, shear strength and stiffness of soils. The shear strength of soils is primarily derived from friction between the particles and interlocking, which are very sensitive to the effective stress. The article concludes with some examples of applications of the principles of soil mechanics such as slope stability, lateral earth pressure on retaining walls, and bearing capacity of foundations.

Soil Expansion - Sinkholes - Earth Quakes

Soil Conservation is the prevention of soil loss from erosion or reduced fertility caused by over usage, acidification, salinization or other chemical soil contamination. Tillage.

Soil Ecology is the study of the interactions among soil organisms, and between biotic and abiotic aspects of the soil environment.

Soil Food Web describes how groups of organisms in soil interact with each other and plants. The main groups of micro-organisms that make up the soil food web are fungi, bacteria, protozoa, nematodes and micro-arthropods. These groups interact with each other and with plants to help create functional ecosystems.

Soil Quality - Soil Health - Soil Fertility

Regenerative Agriculture is a conservation and rehabilitation approach to food and farming systems. It focuses on topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle, enhancing ecosystem services, supporting biosequestration, increasing resilience to climate change, and strengthening the health and vitality of farm soil. Practices include recycling as much farm waste as possible and adding composted material from sources outside the farm. Regenerative agriculture on small farms and gardens is often based on philosophies like permaculture, agroecology, agroforestry, restoration ecology, keyline design, and holistic management. Large farms tend to be less philosophy driven and often use "no-till" and/or "reduced till" practices. On a regenerative farm, yield should increase over time. As the topsoil deepens, production may increase and fewer external compost inputs are required. Actual output is dependent on the nutritional value of the composting materials and the structure and content of the soil. Principles include: Increase soil fertility. Work with whole systems (holistically), not isolated parts, to make changes to specific parts. Improve whole agro-ecosystems (soil, water, and biodiversity). Connect the farm to its larger agro-ecosystem and region. Make holistic decisions that express the value of farm contributors. Each person and farm is significant. Make sure all stakeholders have equitable and reciprocal relationships. Payment can be financial, spiritual, social, or environmental capital ("multi-capital"). Relationships can be "non-linear" (not reciprocal): if you do not get paid, in the future you can be given other "capital" by unrelated parties. Continually grow and evolve individuals, farms, and communities. Continuously evolve the agro-ecology. Agriculture influences the world.

Soil Types

Soil Type is a taxonomic unit in soil science. All soils that share a certain set of well-defined properties form a distinctive soil type. Soil type is a technical term of soil classification, the science that deals with the systematic categorization of soils. Every soil of the world belongs to a certain soil type. Soil type is an abstract term. In nature, you will not find soil types. You will find soils that belong to a certain soil type.

Soil Taxonomy is the classification of soil types according to several parameters. Global Soil Biodiversity - RSP.

Soil Classification deals with the systematic categorization of soils based on distinguishing characteristics as well as criteria that dictate choices in use.

Loam or top soil, is typically a rich, dark soil that has a loose breakable texture. Loam soil has a good balance of sand, silt, clay, and organic matter and is able to retain water while still allowing drainage. Most plants will have an easier time growing in loam than any other type of soil. Loam is soil that is not predominantly sand, silt, or clay. Loam soils generally contain more nutrients, moisture, and humus than sandy soils, and have better drainage and infiltration of water and air than silt- and clay-rich soils, and are easier to till than clay soils. In fact, the primary definition of loam in most dictionaries is soils containing humus or organic content, and this definition is used by many gardeners. The different types of loam soils each have slightly different characteristics, with some draining liquids more efficiently than others. The soil's texture, especially its ability to retain nutrients and water, are crucial. Loam soil is suitable for growing most plant varieties. Loam is composed mostly of sand (particle size > 63 micrometres (0.0025 in)), silt (particle size > 2 micrometres (7.9×10−5 in)), and a smaller amount of clay (particle size < 2 micrometres (7.9×10−5 in)). By weight, its mineral composition is about 40–40–20% concentration of sand–silt–clay, respectively. These proportions can vary to a degree, however, and result in different types of loam soils: sandy loam, silty loam, clay loam, sandy clay loam or silty clay loam.

Topsoil is the upper, outermost layer of soil, usually the top 2 inches (5.1 cm) to 8 inches (20 cm). It has the highest concentration of organic matter and microorganisms and is where most of the Earth's biological soil activity occurs. Four elements constitute the composition of soil. Those elements are mineral particles, organic matter, water, and air. The volume of top soil consists of 50 to 80 percent of these particles which form the skeletal structure of most soils. This composition allows the soil to sustain its own weight, and other internal matter such as water and overlying landscape. Organic matter, another important element, varies on quantity on different soils. This provokes positive and negative effects or reactions on the soil. The strength of soil structure decreases with the presence of organic matter, creating weak bearing capacities. Organic matter condenses and settles in different ways under certain conditions, such as roadbeds and foundations. The skeletal structure becomes affected once the soil is dewatered. The soil's volume substantially decreases. It decomposes and suffers wind erosion.

Subsoil is the layer of soil under the topsoil on the surface of the ground. Like topsoil it is composed of a variable mixture of small particles such as sand, silt and/or clay, but it lacks the organic matter and humus content of topsoil. Below the subsoil is the substratum, which can be residual bedrock, sediments, or aeolian deposits. As it is lacking in dark humus, subsoil is usually paler in colour than the overlying topsoil. It may contain the deeper roots of some plants, such as trees, but a majority of plant roots lie within the surface topsoil. Clay-based subsoil has been the primary source of material for adobe, cob, rammed earth, wattle and daub, and other earthen construction methods for millennia.

Clay is a fine-grained natural rock or soil material that combines one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure. Clays are plastic due to that water content and become hard, brittle and non–plastic upon drying or firing. Depending on the soil's content in which it is found, clay can appear in various colours from white to dull grey or brown to deep orange-red. Clay is typically heavy with very small particles. It compacts easily and is silky when dry. Clay soil retains water, but plants can have a harder time growing roots in clay due to its tight structure. Adding organic matter to the soil can help improve the soil and make it easier for plants to grow.

Clay Loam is less heavy than pure clay and has small but slightly larger particles. There is more organic matter present in clay loam soil than in clay. It still compacts easily and is silky when dry. Clay loam soil retains water but plants may struggle growing roots due to its tight structure. Kisameet Clay.

Claypan is a dense, compact, slowly permeable layer in the subsoil having a much higher clay content than the overlying material, from which it is separated by a sharply defined boundary. Claypans are usually hard when dry, and plastic and sticky when wet. They limit or slow the downward movement of water through the soil.

Chaco Clay is an eatable medicinal clay in the Peruvian highlands used as slurry with water to restrain dyspeptic discomfort or acid-peptic manifestations and other digestive problems. Separation of patatins and protease inhibitors from potato fruit juice with clay minerals as cation exchangers.

Soil Compaction is when soil becomes dense and hard. Tilling.

Compaction in geology refers to the process by which a sediment progressively loses its porosity due to the effects of loading. This forms part of the process of lithification, which is the process in which sediments compact under pressure, expel connate fluids, and gradually become solid rock. Essentially, lithification is a process of porosity destruction through compaction and cementation. Lithification includes all the processes which convert unconsolidated sediments into sedimentary rocks. Petrifaction, though often used as a synonym, is more specifically used to describe the replacement of organic material by silica in the formation of fossils.

Hardpan is a dense layer of soil, usually found below the uppermost topsoil layer. There are different types of hardpan, all sharing the general characteristic of being a distinct soil layer that is largely impervious to water. Some hardpans are formed by deposits in the soil that fuse and bind the soil particles. These deposits can range from dissolved silica to matrices formed from iron oxides and calcium carbonate. Others are man-made, such as hardpan formed by compaction from repeated plowing, particularly with moldboard plows, or by heavy traffic or pollution.

How Crop Roots penetrate Hard Soils. Scientists have discovered a signal that causes roots to stop growing in hard soils which can be 'switched off' to allow them to punch through compacted soil -- a discovery that could help plants to grow in even the most damaged soils.

Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles. It is defined by size, being finer than gravel and coarser than silt. Sand can also refer to a textural class of Soil or soil type; i.e. a soil containing more than 85% sand-sized particles by mass. The composition of sand varies, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal settings is Silica (silicon dioxide, or SiO2), usually in the form of Quartz. The second most common type of sand is Calcium Carbonate, for example aragonite, which has mostly been created, over the past half billion years, by various forms of life, like coral and shellfish. For example, it is the primary form of sand apparent in areas where reefs have dominated the ecosystem for millions of years like the Caribbean. Sand is a non-renewable resource over human timescales, and sand suitable for making concrete is in high demand. The best sand for Cement is river sand. Beach sand or sand from the desert is not good for cement. Particulate Matter.

Sandy Loam soil is less crumbly and coarse than pure sand, it has some smaller particles and more organic matter. Sandy loam can still be gritty to the touch but when moistened will form into a ball. Plants in sandy loam will need more frequent watering, as sandy loam does not retain water and nutrients for long

Sandy Soil is typically loose with large particles. Sand is gritty to the touch and even when moistened will not form into a ball without crumbling. Plants have a harder time growing in sand because water and nutrients are not retained long enough for plants to absorb. Adding organic matter to the soil can help improve the soil and make it easier for plants to grow.

Rock - Gravel

Pebble is a clast of rock with a particle size of 4–64 mm (0.16–2.52 in) based on the Udden-Wentworth scale of sedimentology. Pebbles are generally considered larger than granules (2–4 mm (0.079–0.157 in) in diameter) and smaller than cobbles (64–256 mm (2.5–10.1 in) in diameter). A rock made predominantly of pebbles is termed a conglomerate. Pebble tools are among the earliest known man-made artifacts, dating from the Palaeolithic period of human history.

Granular is resembling or consisting of small grains or particles. But bigger than the particles in physics.

Grain is a relatively small granular particle of a substance. (Grains of Sand) - Size Scales.

Granularity the condition of existing in grains or granules, refers to the extent to which a material or system is composed of distinguishable pieces or grains. It can either refer to the extent to which a larger entity is subdivided, or the extent to which groups of smaller indistinguishable entities have joined together to become larger distinguishable entities. A kilometer broken into centimeters has finer granularity than a kilometer broken into meters; whereas, by contrast, molecules of photographic emulsion may clump together to form distinct noticeable granules, reflecting coarser granularity.

Granular Material is a conglomeration of discrete solid, macroscopic particles characterized by a loss of energy whenever the particles interact (the most common example would be friction when grains collide). The constituents that compose granular material must be large enough such that they are not subject to thermal motion fluctuations. Thus, the lower size limit for grains in granular material is about 1 µm. On the upper size limit, the physics of granular materials may be applied to ice floes where the individual grains are icebergs and to asteroid belts of the Solar System with individual grains being asteroids. Some examples of granular materials are snow, nuts, coal, sand, rice, coffee, corn flakes, fertilizer, and bearing balls. Powders are a special class of granular material due to their small particle size, which makes them more cohesive and more easily suspended in a gas. Granular materials are commercially important in applications as diverse as pharmaceutical industry, agriculture, and energy production. Research into granular materials is thus directly applicable and goes back at least to Charles-Augustin de Coulomb, whose law of friction was originally stated for granular materials.

Silt Granular is less than < 0.05 mm in size. Sand Granular is from 0.05 mm to 2.00 mm in size. Gravel Piece is bigger than 2.00 mm in size.

Quicksand is a colloid hydrogel consisting of fine granular material (such as sand, silt or clay), and water. Quicksand forms in saturated loose sand when the sand is suddenly agitated. When water in the sand cannot escape, it creates a liquefied soil that loses strength and cannot support weight. Quicksand can form in standing water or in upwards flowing water (as from an artesian spring). In the case of upwards flowing water, seepage forces oppose the force of gravity and suspend the soil particles. The saturated sediment may appear quite solid until a sudden change in pressure or shock initiates liquefaction. This causes the sand to form a suspension and lose strength. The cushioning of water gives quicksand, and other liquefied sediments, a spongy, fluidlike texture. Objects in liquefied sand sink to the level at which the weight of the object is equal to the weight of the displaced soil/water mix and the submerged object floats due to its buoyancy. Liquefaction is a special case of quicksand. In this case, sudden earthquake forces immediately increase the pore pressure of shallow groundwater. The saturated liquefied soil loses strength, causing buildings or other objects on that surface to sink or fall. Liquid Earth (youtube).

Science of Sandcastles tries to explain why capillary condensation, a fundamentally microscopic phenomenon involving a few molecular layers of water, can be described reasonably well using macroscopic equations and macroscopic characteristics of bulk water.

Humus refers to the fraction of soil organic matter that is amorphous and without the "cellular cake structure characteristic of plants, micro-organisms or animals." Humus significantly influences the bulk density of soil and contributes to moisture and nutrient retention. Soil formation begins with the weathering of humus. In agriculture, humus is sometimes also used to describe mature, or natural compost extracted from a forest or other spontaneous source for use to amend soil. It is also used to describe a topsoil horizon that contains organic matter (humus type, humus form, humus profile). Humus is the dark organic matter that forms in the soil when plant and animal matter decays. Humus contains many useful nutrients for healthy soil, nitrogen being the most important of all.

Muck is a soil made up primarily of humus from drained swampland. It is known as black soil in The Fens of eastern England, where it was originally mainly fen and Bog.

Soil Organic Matter is the organic matter component of soil, consisting of plant and animal residues at various stages of decomposition, cells and tissues of soil organisms, and substances synthesized by soil organisms. SOM exerts numerous positive effects on soil physical and chemical properties, as well as the soil’s capacity to provide regulatory ecosystem services. Particularly, the presence of SOM is regarded as being critical for soil function and soil quality.

Geophagia is the practice of eating earth or soil-like substrates such as clay or chalk. Can you Eat Dirt? (Mud Pie).

Iodine in desert dust destroys ozone. New study shows iodine from desert dust can decrease ozone air pollution but could prolong greenhouse gas lifetimes. When winds loft fine desert dust high into the atmosphere, iodine in that dust can trigger chemical reactions that destroy some air pollution, but also let greenhouse gases stick around longer. The finding may force researchers to re-evaluate how particles from land can impact the chemistry of the atmosphere.

Sediment is a naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particles. For example, sand and silt can be carried in suspension in river water and on reaching the sea be deposited by sedimentation and if buried this may eventually become sandstone and siltstone, ( sedimentary rocks).

Silt is granular material of a size between sand and clay, whose mineral origin is quartz and feldspar. Silt may occur as a soil (often mixed with sand or clay) or as sediment mixed in suspension with water (also known as a suspended load) and soil in a body of water such as a river. It may also exist as soil deposited at the bottom of a water body, like mudflows from landslides. Silt has a moderate specific area with a typically non-sticky, plastic feel. Silt usually has a floury feel when dry, and a slippery feel when wet. Silt can be visually observed with a hand lens, exhibiting a sparkly appearance. It also can be felt by the tongue as granular when placed on the front teeth (even when mixed with clay particles).

Biological Soil Crust are communities of living organisms on the soil surface in arid and semi-arid ecosystems. They are found throughout the world with varying species composition and cover depending on topography, soil characteristics, climate, plant community, microhabitats, and disturbance regimes. Biological soil crusts perform important ecological roles including carbon fixation, nitrogen fixation, soil stabilization, alter soil albedo and water relations, and affect germination and nutrient levels in vascular plants. They can be damaged by fire, recreational activity, grazing, and other disturbance and can require long time periods to recover composition and function. Biological soil crusts are also known as cryptogamic, microbiotic, microphytic, or cryptobiotic soils. Real World Native Biocrusts: Microbial Metabolism. Arid lands, which cover some 40 percent of the Earth’s terrestrial surface, are too dry to sustain much in the way of vegetation. But far from being barren, they are home to diverse communities of microorganisms—including fungi, bacteria, and archaea—that dwell together within the uppermost millimeters of soil. These biological soil crusts, or biocrusts, can exist for extended periods in a desiccated, dormant state. When it does rain, the microbes become metabolically active, setting in motion a cascade of activity that dramatically alters both the community structure and the soil chemistry.

Environment - Geology - Chemistry - Biology

On average, 70 percent of all land has degraded soil, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. In an overview on land degradation productivity of some lands has declined by 50% due to soil erosion and desertification. In Africa, poor soil may have caused yield reductions of as much as 40 percent. Globally, loss caused by degradation “costs the world about $400 billion per year,” according to the NRCS.

Soil Testing

Soil Test is a wide variety of soil analyses conducted for one of several possible reasons. Possibly the most widely conducted soil tests are those done to estimate the plant-available concentrations of plant nutrients, in order to determine fertilizer recommendations in agriculture. Other soil tests may be done for engineering (geotechnical), geochemical or ecological investigations. Soil Health - Micronutrient Deficiency.

Soil Testing Kits (farmtek) - Soil Testing Kits (amazon)

Soil Quality Test (usda) - DIY How to Soil Testing (youtube)

How to Collect a Soil Sample for Analysis (youtube)

Collecting Soil Samples Part 1: Tools (youtube)

New Microbial Research Technique to isolate Active Microbes present in a sample of soil. Bioorthogonal Noncanonical Amino Acid Tagging enables Time-Resolved Analysis of Protein Synthesis in Native Plant Tissue.

Why Plant Tissue Analysis? Analysis of plant tissues is an extremely useful tool for growers. Not only can plant tissue testing be used to monitor the nutrient status of plants but it can help identify nutrient deficiencies and imbalances. This allows growers to more effectively tailor their nutrient management programs to meet a crop's specific needs. Cost savings may be realized if nutrient deficiencies are resolved before they adversely affect production and also if unnecessary fertilizer applications are avoided. Why Not Just Test the Soil? Soil testing is also a valuable tool and is often used in conjunction with tissue testing. Soil tests should be taken before planting and at regular intervals once plants are established. The soil pH is of special importance because it affects the availability of all plant nutrients. There is often not a strong relationship between the nutrient levels in soil and in plant tissue. This is because many factors affect the ability of plants to take up nutrients. Tissue testing is the best way to find out the nutritional composition of plants. In What Circumstances Would Plant Tissue Analysis Be Suggested? Routine Assessment � Leaf and/or petiole samples are collected at the appropriate time of year and sent in every 2 to 3 years to monitor nutrient levels in plants and fertility program. Trouble Shooting. If observing leaf symptoms that may indicate a nutritional problem, samples are sent in from plants showing symptoms and also those without for a comparison. Plant Analysis.

Microbiology - Cover Crops - Nitrogen Fixing - Carbon

Soil Acidification is the buildup of hydrogen cations, also called protons, reducing the soil pH. This happens when a proton donor gets added to the soil. The donor can be an acid, such as nitric acid and sulfuric acid (these acids are common components of acid rain). It can also be a compound such as aluminium sulfate, which reacts in the soil to release protons. Many nitrogen compounds, which are added as fertilizer, also acidify soil over the long term because they produce nitrous and nitric acid when oxidized in the process of nitrification. Soil Salinity (salt).

Soil pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity in soils. pH is defined as the negative logarithm (base 10) of the activity of hydronium ions (H+ or, more precisely, H3O+aq) in a solution. In water, it normally ranges from -1 to 14, with 7 being neutral. A pH below 7 is acidic and above 7 is alkaline. Soil pH is considered a master variable in soils as it controls many chemical processes that take place. It specifically affects plant nutrient availability by controlling the chemical forms of the nutrient. The optimum pH range for most plants is between 5.5 and 7.0, however many plants have adapted to thrive at pH values outside this range. Acid soils can be limed to alter the acidity, but the practice is costly and must be done annually. PH Balance (from potential of Hydrogen) the logarithm of the reciprocal of hydrogen-ion concentration in gram atoms per liter; provides a measure on a scale from 0 to 14 of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution (where 7 is neutral and greater than 7 is more basic and less than 7 is more acidic).

Limestone - Chalk - Calcium Carbonate - Salt

Crop-Saving Soil Tests now at Farmers' Fingertips. On-site pathogen analysis is accurate, quick and inexpensive.

Biosensor is an analytical device, used for the detection of an analyte, that combines a biological component with a physicochemical detector. Sensors.

Gas sensors ‘see’ through soil to analyze microbial interactions

How Soil Bacteria are primed to consume Greenhouse Gasnitrous Oxide when they experience life without oxygen in the environment.

Core Samples - Drilling Sediment or Rock

Core Sample is a cylindrical section of a naturally occurring substance. Most core samples are obtained by drilling with special drills into the substance, for example sediment or rock, with a hollow steel tube called a core drill. The hole made for the core sample is called the "core bowling". A variety of core samplers exist to sample different media under different conditions. More continue to be invented on a regular basis. In the coring process, the sample is pushed more or less intact into the tube. Removed from the tube in the laboratory, it is inspected and analyzed by different techniques and equipment depending on the type of data desired. Core samples can be taken to test the properties of manmade materials, such as concrete, ceramics, some metals and alloys, especially the softer ones. Core samples can also be taken of living things, including human beings, especially of a person's bones for microscopic examination to help diagnose diseases.

Ice Core is a core sample that is typically removed from an ice sheet or a high mountain glacier. Warming.

Geological Dating Techniques

Soil Boring is a technique used to survey soil by taking several shallow cores out of the sediment. It is done by supporting a drilling jacket or jack-up rig on the soil and drilling into that soil. Conventional soil boring is used to determine the subsurface soil profile and static soil properties. Sink Holes.

Index to Marine and Lacustrine Geological Samples is a tool to help scientists locate and obtain geologic material from sea floor and lakebed cores, grabs, and dredges archived by participating institutions around the world. Sample material is available directly from each repository. Before proposing research on any sample, please contact the curator for sample condition and availability.

The Marine Geology Repository at Oregon State University is a NSF supported curation facility for marine rock and sediment samples. Containing over 41,000 cubic feet of refrigerated space and 1,100 cft of -25ºC cold storage it is well equipped for preservation and distribution of marine geological samples for scientific research and education. Our mission is to facilitate research, education, and the advancement of scientific knowledge through access and use of our diverse collection of rock, lake, and marine sediment samples.

Sediment cores from ocean floor could contain 23-million-year-old climate change clues. Sediment cores taken from the Southern Ocean dating back 23 million years are providing insight into how ancient methane escaping from the seafloor could have led to regional or global climate and environmental changes, according to a new study.

The Lamont-Doherty Core Repository curates and archives a diverse collection of deep sea cores, coral cores, marine dredge samples, terrestrial cores from lakes and wetlands, as well as a number of special collections such as the CLIMAP samples, Prof. Jim Hayes' radiolarian collection, and a collection of cores that have been vacuum-sealed since they were first collected.

Hyper-Accumulators - Contaminated Soils - Phytomining

Soil Contamination is caused by the presence of xenobiotic (human-made) chemicals or other alteration in the natural soil environment. It is typically caused by industrial activity, agricultural chemicals, or improper disposal of waste. The most common chemicals involved are petroleum hydrocarbons, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (such as naphthalene and benzo(a)pyrene), solvents, pesticides, lead, and other heavy metals. Contamination is correlated with the degree of industrialization and intensity of chemical usage.

Contamination is the presence of an unwanted constituent, contaminant or impurity in a material, physical body, natural environment, workplace, etc.

Contaminates (EPA) - Soil Depletion - Fortification - Testing Soil

Soil Retrogression and Degradation is the loss of equilibrium of a Stable Soil. Retrogression is primarily due to soil erosion and corresponds to a phenomenon where succession reverts the land to its natural physical state. Degradation is an evolution, different from natural evolution, related to the local climate and vegetation. It is due to the replacement of primary plant communities (known as climax vegetation) by the secondary communities. This replacement modifies the humus composition and amount, and affects the formation of the soil. It is directly related to human activity. Soil degradation may also be viewed as any change or ecological disturbance to the soil perceived to be deleterious or undesirable.

Environmental Remediation deals with the removal of pollution or contaminants from environmental media such as soil, groundwater, sediment, or surface water. This would mean that once requested by the government or a land remediation authority, immediate action should be taken as this can impact negatively on human health and the environment.

Remediation is an act of correcting an error or fixing a fault or an evil.

Chelation Therapy (cleansing) - Bonds

Nanoremediation is the use of nanoparticles for environmental remediation. It is being explored to treat ground water, wastewater, soil, sediment, or other contaminated environmental materials.
Nano Technology - Freshwater Mussels.

Speedy Nano-Robots could someday clean up soil and water, deliver drugs. Researchers have discovered that minuscule, self-propelled particles called 'nanoswimmers' can escape from mazes as much as 20 times faster than other, passive particles, paving the way for their use in everything from industrial clean-ups to medication delivery.

Bioaccumulation refers to the accumulation of substances, such as pesticides, or other chemicals in an organism. Bioaccumulation occurs when an organism absorbs a - possibly toxic - substance at a rate faster than that at which the substance is lost by catabolism and excretion. Thus, the longer the biological half-life of a toxic substance the greater the risk of chronic poisoning, even if environmental levels of the toxin are not very high. Bioaccumulation, for example in fish, can be predicted by models. Hypotheses for molecular size cutoff criteria for use as bioaccumulation potential indicators are not supported by data. Biotransformation can strongly modify bioaccumulation of chemicals in an organism. Biodegradable.

Biosorption is a physiochemical process that occurs naturally in certain biomass which allows it to passively concentrate and bind contaminants onto its cellular structure. Biosorption can be defined as the ability of biological materials to accumulate heavy metals from wastewater through metabolically mediated or physico-chemical pathways of uptake. Though using biomass in environmental cleanup has been in practice for a while, scientists and engineers are hoping this phenomenon will provide an economical alternative for removing toxic heavy metals from industrial wastewater and aid in environmental remediation.

Bioleaching is the extraction of metals from their ores through the use of living organisms. This is much cleaner than the traditional heap leaching using cyanide. Bioleaching is one of several applications within biohydrometallurgy and several methods are used to recover copper, zinc, lead, arsenic, antimony, nickel, molybdenum, gold, silver, and cobalt.

Lettuce show you how to restore oil-soaked soil. Study fine-tunes pyrolysis technique to make soil fertile again.

Pyrolysis is the thermal decomposition of materials at elevated temperatures in an inert atmosphere. It involves the change of chemical composition and is irreversible. Bio-Char.

Floating Wetlands (water cleaners)

Probiotics help Poplar Trees clean up Contaminated Groundwater

Biology - Hemp Plants (biomass) - Environment (botany)

Hyperaccumulator is a plant capable of growing in soils with very high concentrations of metals, absorbing these metals through their roots, and concentrating extremely high levels of metals in their tissues. The metals are concentrated at levels that are toxic to closely related species not adapted to growing on the metalliferous soils. Compared to non-hyperaccumulating species, hyperaccumulator roots extract the metal from the soil at a higher rate, transfer it more quickly to their shoots, and store large amounts in leaves and roots. The ability to hyperaccumulate toxic metals compared to related species has been shown to be due to differential gene expression and regulation of the same genes in both plants. Over 500 species of flowering plants have been identified as having the ability to hyperaccumulate metals in their tissues. Hyperaccumulating plants hold interest for their ability to extract metals from the soils of contaminated sites (phytoremediation) to return the ecosystem to a less toxic state. The plants also hold potential to be used to mine metals from soils with very high concentrations (phytomining) by growing the plants then harvesting them for the metals in their tissues. The genetic advantage of hyperaccumulation of metals may be that the toxic levels of heavy metals in leaves deter herbivores or increase the toxicity of other anti-herbivory metabolite.

Phytoremediation of heavy metal polluted soils and water: Progresses and perspectives.

A Review on Heavy Metals (As, Pb, and Hg) Uptake by Plants through Phytoremediation.

How a common fungus eliminates toxic mercury from soil and water. Researchers found that the fungus Metarhizium robertsii removes mercury from the soil around plant roots, and from fresh and saltwater. The researchers also genetically engineered the fungus to amplify its mercury detoxifying effects. This new work suggests Metarhizium could provide an inexpensive and efficient way to protect crops grown in polluted areas and remediate mercury-laden waterways.

Using plants to clean contaminated soil - Aeroponincs.

Phytoremediation technologies use living plants to clean up soil, air, and water contaminated with hazardous contaminants. It is defined as "the use of green plants and the associated microorganisms, along with proper soil amendments and agronomic techniques to either contain, remove or render toxic environmental contaminants harmless". The term is an amalgam of the Greek phyto (plant) and Latin remedium (restoring balance). Although attractive for its cost, phytoremediation has not been demonstrated to redress any significant environmental challenge to the extent that contaminated space has been reclaimed. Phytoremediation means "restoring balance". Phytoremediation is proposed as a cost-effective plant-based approach of environmental remediation that takes advantage of the ability of plants to concentrate elements and compounds from the environment and to detoxify various compounds. The concentrating effect results from the ability of certain plants called hyperaccumulators to bioaccumulate chemicals. The remediation effect is quite different. Toxic heavy metals cannot be degraded, but organic pollutants can be and are generally the major targets for phytoremediation. Several field trials confirmed the feasibility of using plants for environmental cleanup. Alyssum Murale is a Nickel Hyperaccumulator.

Phytoextraction uses plants or algae to remove contaminants from soil or water into harvestable plant biomass. The roots take up substances from the soil or water and concentrate it above ground in the plant biomass Organisms that can uptake extremely high amounts of contaminants from the soil are called hyperaccumulators. Phytoextraction can also be performed by plants (e.g. Populus and Salix) that take up lower levels of pollutants, but due to their high growth rate and biomass production, may remove a considerable amount of contaminants from the soil. Phytoextraction has been growing rapidly in popularity worldwide for the last twenty years or so. Typically, phytoextraction is used for heavy metals or other inorganics. At the time of disposal, contaminants are typically concentrated in the much smaller volume of the plant matter than in the initially contaminated soil or sediment. After harvest, a lower level of the contaminant will remain in the soil, so the growth/harvest cycle must usually be repeated through several crops to achieve a significant cleanup. After the process, the cleaned soil can support other vegetation. Mining of these extracted metals through phytomining, is also being experimented with as a way of recovering the material. Hyperaccumulators are plants that can naturally take up the contaminants in soil unassisted. In many cases these are metallophyte plants that can tolerate and incorporate high levels of toxic metals. Induced or assisted phytoextraction is a process where a conditioning fluid containing a chelator or another agent is added to soil to increase metal solubility or mobilization so that the plants can absorb them more easily. While this leads to increased metal uptake by plants, it can also lead to large amounts of available metals in the soil beyond what the plants are able to translocate, causing potential leaching into the subsoil or groundwater.

New Phytologist offers rapid publication of high quality, original research in plant science. Falling within four sections – Physiology & Development, Environment, Interaction and Evolution – articles cover topics that range from intracellular processes through to global environmental change.

New Phytologist Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of plant science. It owns and produces the international journals New Phytologist and Plants, People, Planet.

Phytomining is the production of a `crop' of a metal by growing high-biomass plants that accumulate high metal concentrations. Some of these plants are natural hyperaccumulators, and in others the property can be induced. Pioneering experiments in this field might lead to a `green' alternative to existing, environmentally destructive, opencast mining practices. Phytomining for a range of metals is a real possibility, with the additional potential of the exploitation of ore bodies that it is uneconomic to mine by conventional methods. Phytomining - Mining With Trees - Could Save Our Planet (youtube)

Phytomining of Gold involves extracting gold from soil substrates by harvesting specially selected hyperaccumulating plants. Phytomining has potential to allow economic exploitation of low grade ores or mineralized soils that are too poor for conventional mining of metals. Gold is the most promising option for phytomining as its market value is increasing continuously.

Carcinogen (cancer) - Pesticides - Toxins

Lead Poisoning - Arsenic Poisoning

Water Contamination - Pollution

Caesium is a chemical element with symbol Cs and atomic number 55. It is a soft, silvery-gold (or, according to some, silver/colorless) alkali metal with a melting point of 28.5 °C (83.3 °F), which makes it one of only five elemental metals that are liquid at or near room temperature. Caesium is an alkali metal and has physical and chemical properties similar to those of rubidium and potassium. The metal is extremely reactive and pyrophoric, reacting with water even at −116 °C (−177 °F). Some argue that caesium is the most reactive element of all, even more reactive than fluorine, the most reactive nonmetal. It is the least electronegative element, with a value of 0.79 on the Pauling scale. It has only one stable isotope, caesium-133. Caesium is mined mostly from pollucite, while the radioisotopes, especially Caesium-137, a fission product, are extracted from waste produced by nuclear reactors. Cesium Tolerance.

Anthropocene is a proposed epoch that begins when human activities started to have a significant global impact on Earth's geology and ecosystems.

Anthropocene is a proposed epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on the Earth's geology and ecosystems. The Anthropocence thus includes, but also transcends, the duration of anthropogenic climate change.

Biosequestration is the capture and storage of the atmospheric greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by continual or enhanced biological processes. This form of carbon sequestration occurs through increased rates of photosynthesis via land-use practices such as reforestation, sustainable forest management, and genetic engineering. Methods and practices exist to enhance soil carbon sequestration in both sectors of agriculture and forestry. Additionally, in the context of industrial energy production, strategies such as Bio-energy with Carbon Capture and Storage to absorb carbon dioxide emissions from coal, petroleum, or natural gas-fired electricity generation can utilize an alternative of algal bio sequestration (see algae bioreactor). Biosequestration as a natural process has occurred in the past, and was responsible for the formation of the extensive coal and oil deposits which are now being burned. It is a key policy concept in the climate change mitigation debate. It does not generally refer to the sequestering of carbon dioxide in oceans (see carbon sequestration and ocean acidification) or rock formations (see geological sequestration), depleted oil or gas reservoirs (see oil depletion and peak oil), deep saline aquifers, or deep coal seams (see coal mining) (for all see geosequestration) or through the use of industrial chemical carbon dioxide scrubbing. Carbon Sink.

Geobacter is a genus of Proteobacteria. Geobacter species are anaerobic respiration bacterial species which have capabilities that make them useful in bioremediation. Geobacter was found to be the first organism with the ability to oxidize organic compounds and metals, including iron, radioactive metals, and petroleum compounds into environmentally benign carbon dioxide while using iron oxide or other available metals as electron acceptors. Geobacter species are also found to be able to respire upon a graphite electrode. They have been found in anaerobic conditions in soils and aquatic sediment. Geobacter's ability to consume oil-based pollutants and radioactive material with carbon dioxide as waste byproduct has been used in environmental clean-up for underground petroleum spills and for the precipitation of uranium out of groundwater. Geobacter degrade the material by creating electrically conductive pili between itself and the pollutant material, using it as an electron source. Microbial biodegradation of recalcitrant organic pollutants is of great environmental significance and involves intriguing novel biochemical reactions. In particular, hydrocarbons and halogenated compounds have long been doubted to be anaerobically degradable, but the isolation of hitherto unknown anaerobic hydrocarbon-degrading and reductively dehalogenating bacteria documented these processes in nature. Novel biochemical reactions were discovered, enabling the respective metabolic pathways, but progress in the molecular understanding of these bacteria was slowed by the absence of genetic systems for most of them. However, several complete genome sequences later became available for such bacteria. The genome of the hydrocarbon degrading and iron-reducing species G. metallireducens (accession nr. NC_007517) was determined in 2008. The genome revealed the presence of genes for reductive dehalogenases, suggesting a wide dehalogenating spectrum. Moreover, genome sequences provided insights into the evolution of reductive dehalogenation and differing strategies for niche adaptation. Geobacter species are often the predominant organisms when extracellular electron transfer is an important bioremediation process in subsurface environments. Therefore, a systems biology approach to understanding and optimizing bioremediation with Geobacter species has been initiated with the ultimate goal of developing in silico models that can predict the growth and metabolism of Geobacter species under a diversity of subsurface conditions. The genomes of multiple Geobacter species have been sequenced. Detailed functional genomic/physiological studies on one species, G. sulfurreducens was conducted. Genome-based models of several Geobacter species that are able to predict physiological responses under different environmental conditions are available. Quantitative analysis of gene transcript levels during in situ uranium bioremediation demonstrated that it is possible to track in situ rates of metabolism and the in situ metabolic state of Geobacter in the subsurface. Geobacter has become an icon for teaching about microbial electrogenesis and microbial fuel cells and has appeared in educational kits that are available for students and hobbyists.

Microbes in Soil

Soil Microbiology is the study of organisms in soil and their functions and how they affect soil properties. It is believed that between two and four billion years ago, the first ancient bacteria and microorganisms came about in Earth's oceans. These bacteria could fix nitrogen, in time multiplied and as a result released oxygen into the atmosphere. This led to more advanced microorganisms. Microorganisms in soil are important because they affect soil structure and fertility. Soil microorganisms can be classified as bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, algae and protozoa. Each of these groups has characteristics that define them and their functions in soil. Up to 10 billion bacterial cells inhabit each gram of soil in and around plant roots, a region known as the rhizosphere. In 2011, a team detected more than 33,000 bacterial and archaeal species on sugar beet roots. The composition of the rhizobiome can change rapidly in response to changes in the surrounding environment. Cover Crops.

Microbial Ecology is the ecology of microorganisms: their relationship with one another and with their environment. It concerns the three major domains of life—Eukaryota, Archaea, and Bacteria—as well as viruses. Soil Testing.

Soil Food Web is the community of organisms living all or part of their lives in the soil. It describes a complex living system in the soil and how it interacts with the environment, plants, and animals.

Soil microbes play a key role in plant disease resistance.

Microorganisms Increase Crop Yields - Microbes Improve Crop Productivity.

Biological Soil Crusts or biocrusts are a complex community of algae, cyanobacteria, lichens, bryophytes, and assorted bacteria, fungi, archaea, and bacteriophages that colonize the soil surface. Biocrusts are particularly common in drylands and are found in arid and semiarid ecosystems worldwide. Biological soil crusts are communities of living organisms on the soil surface in arid and semi-arid ecosystems.

In soil, high microbial fluctuation leads to more carbon emissions. Modeling shows fluctuating soil microbial populations impact how much carbon is released from soil.

Microbiologist is a biological scientist who studies microscopic life forms and processes or works in the field of microbiology. Microbiologists investigate the growth, interactions and characteristics of microscopic organisms such as bacteria, algae, fungi, and some types of parasites and their vectors.

Livestock antibiotics and rising temperatures disrupt soil microbial communities. Combined stressors could impair soils’ ability to cycle nutrients and trap carbon. Community ecologists investigated the interactive effects of rising temperatures and a common livestock antibiotic on soil microbes. The research team found that heat and antibiotics disrupt soil microbial communities -- degrading soil microbe efficiency, resilience to future stress, and ability to trap carbon.

Soil microbiota can boost the growth of invasive plant species and provide defense against herbivores. Soil microbes can have a great impact on the spread of harmful invasive species as they can either hinder or facilitate the plant's growth. Researchers studied the role of soil microbiota in the success of garden lupine, which is an invasive species in the Finnish nature.

Earth's living skin soil microbiome is under threat from climate change. Using a novel method to detect microbial activity in biological soil crusts, or biocrusts, after they are wetted, a research team in a new study uncovered clues that will lead to a better understanding of the role microbes play in forming a living skin over many semi-arid ecosystems around the world. The tiny organisms -- and the microbiomes they create -- are threatened by climate change. To determine which microorganisms are active within soil communities, the researchers coupled bioorthogonal non-canonical amino acid tagging -- known as BONCAT -- with fluorescence-activated cell sorting. BONCAT is a powerful tool for tracking protein synthesis on the level of single cells within communities and whole organisms, while fluorescence-activated cell sorting sorts cells based on whether they are producing new proteins.


Mushroom is the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground on soil or on its food source. Fruiting body or sporocarp is a multicellular structure on which spore-producing structures, such as basidia or asci, are born. The fruitbody is part of the sexual phase of a fungal life cycle, while the rest of the life cycle is characterized by vegetative mycelial growth and asexual spore production. 800 Million Years Ago.

Fungus is any member of the group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, which is separate from the other eukaryotic life kingdoms of plants and animals. Fauna - Flora.

MycoGrow Mycorrhizal Fungi

Mycoremediation a form of bioremediation, is the process of using fungi to degrade or sequester contaminants in the environment. Stimulating microbial and enzyme activity, mycelium reduces toxins in-situ. Some fungi are hyperaccumulators, capable of absorbing and concentrating heavy metals in the mushroom fruit bodies. This does not destroy the heavy metals.

Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus or fungus-like bacterial colony, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. The mass of hyphae is sometimes called shiro, especially within the fairy ring fungi. Fungal colonies composed of mycelium are found in and on soil and many other substrates. A typical single spore germinates into a homokaryotic mycelium, which cannot reproduce sexually; when two compatible homokaryotic mycelia join and form a dikaryotic mycelium, that mycelium may form fruiting bodies such as mushrooms. A mycelium may be minute, forming a colony that is too small to see, or it may be extensive: Is this the largest organism in the world? This 2,400-acre [970-hectare] site in eastern Oregon had a contiguous growth of mycelium before logging roads cut through it. Estimated at 1,665 football fields in size and 2,200 years old, this one fungus has killed the forest above it several times over, and in so doing has built deeper soil layers that allow the growth of ever-larger stands of trees. Mushroom-forming forest fungi are unique in that their mycelial mats can achieve such massive proportions.

Mushrooms (photos - info)

Ecotoxicology is the study of the effects of toxic chemicals on biological organisms, especially at the population, community, ecosystem, and biosphere levels. Ecotoxicology is a multidisciplinary field, which integrates toxicology and ecology. The ultimate goal of this approach is to be able to predict the effects of pollution so that the most efficient and effective action to prevent or remediate any detrimental effect can be identified. In those ecosystems that are already impacted by pollution ecotoxicological studies can inform as to the best course of action to restore ecosystem services and functions efficiently and effectively. Ecotoxicology differs from environmental toxicology in that it integrates the effects of stressors across all levels of biological organization from the molecular to whole communities and ecosystems, whereas environmental toxicology focuses upon effects at the level of the individual and below.

Super Fungi Pure Science Specials (film) Season 1 Ep 75 | 11/05/2014 | 52:09

Stephen Axford: How fungi changed my view of the world (youtube) - Fantastic images of mushrooms.

Ants that Farm (youtube)

How Soil Fungi Respond to Wildfire

Soil Carbon Capture - Water Testing

How climate warming could disrupt a deep-rooted relationship. Trees depend on fungi for their well-being. As climate change and global warming cause higher temperatures and amplified drought, little is known about how these important fungi will respond. To investigate this issue, a research team conducted a climate change experiment where they exposed boreal and temperate tree species to warming and drought treatments to better understand how fungi and their tree hosts respond to environmental changes. Their findings revealed that the combined effects of warming and water stress will likely result in major disturbances of ectomycorrhizal networks and may harm forest resilience and function.

Evolution of Fungi has been going on since fungi diverged from other life around 1.5 billion years ago, with the glomaleans branching from the "higher fungi" at ~570 million years ago, according to DNA analysis. (Schüssler et al., 2001; Tehler et al., 2000) Fungi probably colonized the land during the Cambrian, over 500 million years ago, (Taylor & Osborn, 1996), and possibly 635 million years ago during the Ediacaran, but terrestrial fossils only become uncontroversial and common during the Devonian, 400 million years ago. Evidence from DNA analysis suggests that all fungi are descended from one common ancestor, at least 600 million years ago. It is probable that these earliest fungi lived in water, and had flagella.

Terrestrial Ecology - Terrestrial - Soil and Plant Scientists Jobs

Soil Solarization is an environmentally friendly method of using solar power for controlling pests such as soilborne plant pathogens including fungi, bacteria, nematodes, and insect and mite pests along with weed seed and seedlings in the soil by mulching the soil and covering it with tarp, usually with a transparent polyethylene cover, to trap solar energy. It may also describe methods of decontaminating soil using sunlight or solar power. This energy causes physical, chemical, and biological changes in the soil.


Fertilizer is any material of natural or synthetic origin that is applied to soils or to plant tissues or leaves to supply one or more plant nutrients that are essential to the growth of plants. Waste Fertilizer (other than liming materials).

Plant Nutrition is the study of the chemical elements and compounds necessary for plant growth, plant metabolism and their external supply. In its absence the plant is unable to complete a normal life cycle, or that the element is part of some essential plant constituent or metabolite.

Malnutrition - Fortification - Fixation - Contaminated Soil - CO2 Affect

Soil Conditioner is a product which is added to soil to improve the soil’s physical qualities, especially its ability to provide nutrition for plants. In general usage, the term "soil conditioner" is often thought of as a subset of the category soil amendments, which more often is understood to include a wide range of fertilizers and non-organic materials.

Soil Amendment
helps improve plant growth and health. Lime makes soil less acidic. Fertilizers for plant nutrients, like manure, peat, or compost. Materials for water retention like clay, shredded bark, or vermiculite. Gypsum helps release nutrients and improves structure.

Heterotrophic is a plant requiring organic compounds of carbon and nitrogen for nourishment.

Soil Quality is a measure of the condition of soil relative to the requirements of one or more biotic species and or to any human need or purpose. The capacity to function, within natural or managed ecosystem boundaries, to sustain plant and animal productivity, maintain or enhance water and air quality, and support human health and habitation. Soil quality is an account of the soil's ability to provide ecosystem and social services through its capacities to perform its functions under changing conditions. Soil quality reflects how well a soil performs the functions of maintaining biodiversity and productivity, partitioning water and solute flow, filtering and buffering, nutrient cycling, and providing support for plants and other structures. Soil management has a major impact on soil quality.

Soil Fertility refers to the ability of soil to sustain agricultural plant growth, i.e. to provide plant habitat and result in sustained and consistent yields of high quality. A fertile soil has the following properties: The ability to supply essential plant nutrients and water in adequate amounts and proportions for plant growth and reproduction and the absence of toxic substances which may inhibit plant growth. The following properties contribute to soil fertility in most situations: Sufficient soil depth for adequate root growth and water retention; Good internal drainage, allowing sufficient aeration for optimal root growth (although some plants, such as rice, tolerate waterlogging); Topsoil with sufficient soil organic matter for healthy soil structure and soil moisture retention; Soil pH in the range 5.5 to 7.0 (suitable for most plants but some prefer or tolerate more acid or alkaline conditions); Adequate concentrations of essential plant nutrients in plant-available forms; Presence of a range of microorganisms that support plant growth. In lands used for agriculture and other human activities, maintenance of soil fertility typically requires the use of soil conservation practices. This is because soil erosion and other forms of soil degradation generally result in a decline in quality with respect to one or more of the aspects indicated above.

Soil Health is a state of a soil meeting its range of ecosystem functions as appropriate to its environment. Soil Health Testing is an assessment of this status. Soil health depends on soil biodiversity (with a robust soil biota), and it can be improved via soil conditioning (soil amendment). The term soil health is used to describe the state of a soil in: Sustaining plant and animal productivity and biodiversity (Soil biodiversity); Maintaining or enhance water and air quality; Supporting human health and habitation. Soil Health Institute - Safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement. Soil naturally absorbs carbon from the atmosphere through a process known as sequestration. Healthy soils store more carbon than the earth’s atmosphere and all its plants and animals combined. The combination of erosion and less healthy soils depletes a valuable resource for farmers, and results in massive amounts of carbon and nitrogen leaving the soil and entering our atmosphere as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.

Phosphorus is a chemical element with symbol P and atomic number 15. As an element, phosphorus exists in two major forms—white phosphorus and red phosphorus—but because it is highly reactive, phosphorus is never found as a free element on Earth. At 0.099%, phosphorus is the most abundant pnictogen in the Earth's crust. With few exceptions, minerals containing phosphorus are in the maximally oxidised state as inorganic phosphate rocks. 

Nitrogen AtomNitrogen is a chemical element with symbol N and atomic number 7. It is the lightest member of group 15 of the periodic table, often called the pnictogens. It is a common element in the universe, estimated at about seventh in total abundance in the Milky Way and the Solar System. At standard temperature and pressure, two atoms of the element bind to form dinitrogen, a colourless and odorless diatomic gas with the formula N2. Dinitrogen forms about 78% of Earth's Atmosphere, making it the most abundant uncombined element. Nitrogen occurs in all organisms, primarily in amino acids (and thus proteins), in the nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and in the energy transfer molecule adenosine triphosphate. The human body contains about 3% nitrogen by mass, the fourth most abundant element in the body after Oxygen, Carbon, and hydrogen. The nitrogen cycle describes movement of the element from the air, into the biosphere and organic compounds, then back into the atmosphere. Nitrogen Fixation

Potassium is a chemical element with symbol K and atomic number 19. It was first isolated from potash, the ashes of plants, from which its name derives. In the periodic table, potassium is one of the alkali metals. All of the alkali metals have a single valence electron in the outer electron shell, which is easily removed to create an ion with a positive charge – a cation, which combines with anions to form salts. Potassium in nature occurs only in ionic salts. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and reacts vigorously with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite hydrogen emitted in the reaction and burning with a lilac-colored flame. It is found dissolved in sea water (which is 0.04% potassium by weight), and is part of many minerals. Naturally occurring potassium is composed of three isotopes, of which 40 K is radioactive. Traces of 40 K are found in all potassium, and it is the most common radioisotope in the human body. Potassium is chemically very similar to sodium, the previous element in Group 1 of the periodic table. They have a similar ionization energy, which allows for each atom to give up its sole outer electron. That they are different elements that combine with the same anions to make similar salts was suspected in 1702,and was proven in 1807 using electrolysis. Most industrial applications of potassium exploit the high solubility in water of potassium compounds, such as potassium soaps. Heavy crop production rapidly depletes the soil of potassium, and this can be remedied with agricultural fertilizers containing potassium, accounting for 95% of global potassium chemical production. Potassium ions are necessary for the function of all living cells. The transfer of potassium ions through nerve cell membranes is necessary for normal nerve transmission; potassium depletion can result in numerous abnormalities, including an abnormal heart rhythm and various electrocardiographic (ECG) abnormalities. Fresh fruits and vegetables are good dietary sources of potassium. The body responds to the influx of dietary potassium, which raises serum potassium levels, with a shift of potassium from outside to inside cells and an increase in potassium excretion by the kidneys.

Calcium is a chemical element with symbol Ca and atomic number 20. Calcium is a soft gray Group 2 alkaline earth metal, fifth-most-abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust. The ion Ca2+ is also the fifth-most-abundant dissolved ion in seawater by both molarity and mass, after sodium, chloride, magnesium, and sulfate. Free calcium metal is too reactive to occur in nature. Calcium is produced in supernova nucleosynthesis.Calcium is an essential trace element in living organisms. It is the most abundant metal by mass in many animals, and it is an important constituent of bone, teeth, and shells. In cell biology, the movement of the calcium ion into and out of the cytoplasm functions as a signal for many cellular processes. Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are often taken as dietary supplements. Calcium is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines.

Magnesium is a chemical element with symbol Mg and atomic number 12. It is a shiny gray solid which bears a close physical resemblance to the other five elements in the second column (Group 2, or alkaline earth metals) of the periodic table: all Group 2 elements have the same electron configuration in the outer electron shell and a similar crystal structure. Magnesium is the ninth most abundant element in the universe. It is produced in large, aging stars from the sequential addition of three helium nuclei to a carbon nucleus. When such stars explode as supernovas, much of the magnesium is expelled into the interstellar medium where it may recycle into new star systems. Magnesium is the eighth most abundant element in the Earth's crust and the fourth most common element in the Earth (after iron, oxygen and silicon), making up 13% of the planet's mass and a large fraction of the planet's mantle. It is the third most abundant element dissolved in seawater, after sodium and chlorine. Magnesium occurs naturally only in combination with other elements, where it invariably has a +2 oxidation state. The free element (metal) can be produced artificially, and is highly reactive (though in the atmosphere, it is soon coated in a thin layer of oxide that partly inhibits reactivity — see passivation). The free metal burns with a characteristic brilliant-white light. The metal is now obtained mainly by electrolysis of magnesium salts obtained from brine, and is used primarily as a component in aluminium-magnesium alloys, sometimes called magnalium or magnelium. Magnesium is less dense than aluminium, and the alloy is prized for its combination of lightness and strength. Magnesium is the eleventh most abundant element by mass in the human body and is essential to all cells and some 300 enzymes. Magnesium ions interact with polyphosphate compounds such as ATP, DNA, and RNA. Hundreds of enzymes require magnesium ions to function. Magnesium compounds are used medicinally as common laxatives, antacids (e.g., milk of magnesia), and to stabilize abnormal nerve excitation or blood vessel spasm in such conditions as eclampsia.

Sulfur is a chemical element with symbol S and atomic number 16. It is abundant, multivalent, and nonmetalic. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow crystalline solid at room temperature. Chemically, sulfur reacts with all elements except for gold, platinum, iridium, tellurium, and the noble gases. Though sometimes found in pure, native form, sulfur usually occurs as sulfide and sulfate minerals. Being abundant in native form, sulfur was known in ancient times, being mentioned for its uses in ancient India, ancient Greece, China, and Egypt. In the Bible, sulfur is called brimstone. Today, almost all elemental sulfur is produced as a byproduct of removing sulfur-containing contaminants from natural gas and petroleum. The greatest commercial use of the element is the production of sulfuric acid for sulfate and phosphate fertilizers, and other chemical processes. The element sulfur is used in matches, insecticides, and fungicides. Many sulfur compounds are odoriferous, and the smells of odorized natural gas, skunk scent, grapefruit, and garlic are due to organosulfur compounds. Hydrogen sulfide gives the characteristic odor to rotting eggs and other biological processes. Sulfur is an essential element for all life, but almost always in the form of organosulfur compounds or metal sulfides. Three amino acids (cysteine, cystine, and methionine) and two vitamins (biotin and thiamine) are organosulfur compounds. Many cofactors also contain sulfur including glutathione and thioredoxin and iron–sulfur proteins. Disulfides, S–S bonds, confer mechanical strength and insolubility of the protein keratin, found in outer skin, hair, and feathers. Sulfur is one of the core chemical elements needed for biochemical functioning and is an elemental macronutrient for all organisms.

Regulation of Phosphate Starvation Responses in Plants: Signaling players and cross-talks. Phosphate or Pi availability is a major factor limiting growth, development, and productivity of plants. In both ecological and agricultural contexts, plants often grow in soils with low soluble phosphate content. Plants respond to this situation by a series of developmental and metabolic adaptations that are aimed at increasing the acquisition of this vital nutrient from the soil, as well as to sustain plant growth and survival. The development of a comprehensive understanding of how plants sense phosphate deficiency and coordinate the responses via signaling pathways has become of major interest, and a number of signaling players and networks have begun to surface for the regulation of the phosphate-deficiency response. In practice, application of such knowledge to improve plant Pi nutrition is hindered by complex cross-talks, which are emerging in the face of new data, such as the coordination of the phosphate-deficiency signaling networks with those involved with hormones, photo-assimilates (sugar), as well as with the homeostasis of other ions, such as iron. In this review, we focus on these cross-talks and on recent progress in discovering new signaling players involved in the Pi-starvation responses, such as proteins having SPX domains.

Safe Fertilizer (PDF) - Safe Organic Pesticides.

Plant protein discovery could reduce need for fertilizer. Researchers have discovered how a protein in plant roots controls the uptake of minerals and water, a finding which could improve the tolerance of agricultural crops to climate change and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers. Members of the blue copper proteins family, the Uclacyanins are vital in the formation of Casparian strips. These strips are essential structures that control mineral nutrient and water use efficiencies by forming tight seals between cells in plants, blocking nutrients and water leaking between. This is the first evidence showing the implications of this family in the biosynthesis of lignin, one of the most abundant organic polymers on earth. This study reveals that the molecular machinery required for Casparian strip lignin deposition is highly ordered by forming nano-domains which can have a huge impact on plant nutrition, a finding that could help in the development of crops that are efficient in taking in the nutrients they need.

Fritz Haber was a German chemist who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918 for his invention of the Haber–Bosch process, a method used in industry to synthesize ammonia from nitrogen gas and hydrogen gas. This invention is important for the large-scale synthesis of fertilizers and explosives. It is estimated that two thirds of annual global food production uses ammonia from the Haber–Bosch process, and that this supports nearly half the world population. Haber, along with Max Born, proposed the Born–Haber cycle as a method for evaluating the lattice energy of an ionic solid. Haber is also considered the "father of chemical warfare" for his years of pioneering work developing and weaponizing chlorine and other poisonous gases during World War I, especially his actions during the Second Battle of Ypres.

Chemists close in on greener method for making fertilizer. Known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is no laughing matter. The potent greenhouse gas emitted during the production of fertilizer is 300 times more harmful than carbon dioxide, forcing industrial factories all over the world to spend a lot of money and energy to dispose of the waste byproduct. But in a breakthrough that one day might enable farmers to produce their own fertilizer from recycled waste, University of Miami chemists Carl Hoff and Burjor Captain have shown for the first time that it’s possible to convert nitrous oxide into potassium nitrate—a key component of the fertilizer needed to feed half the world’s population. Now that the chemists know it is possible to convert nitrous oxide into a nitrate using low temperatures and low pressure, they are working on developing ways to speed up the process. Figuring out how to increase the yield for industrial use will fall to engineers. But Hoff already can envision the day that farmers across the heartland will use their grain windmills to produce their own fertilizer. The method we are working on now to trap gases in a solid matrix uses mechanical energy, so it can be adapted to windmill energy. With a modern adaptation, the chemical reactions needed to make the fertilizer could be done right there on the farm, using energy from the windmills that farmers have used for centuries to grind grain. They could, in essence, create their own fertilizer from salt mixtures and waste gas from the combustion of ammonia that powers farm equipment.

Charcoal - Carbon

Biochar is charcoal used as a soil amendment. Like most charcoal, biochar is made from biomass via pyrolysis. Biochar is under investigation as an approach to carbon sequestration to produce negative carbon dioxide emissions. Biochar thus has the potential to help mitigate climate change via carbon sequestration. Independently, biochar can increase soil fertility of acidic soils (low pH soils), increase agricultural productivity, and provide protection against some foliar and soil-borne diseases. Furthermore, biochar reduces pressure on forests. Biochar is a stable solid, rich in carbon, and can endure in soil for thousands of years. Lignite is an intermediate between peat and bituminous coal. Pyrogenic Carbon includes soot, char, black carbon, and biochar. It's produced by the incomplete combustion of organic matter accompanying biomass burning and fossil fuel consumption. Activate your Biochar.

Using Biochar combined with fertilizer significantly improved height and diameter growth of tree seedlings while also increasing the number of leaves the seedlings developed. The most difficult period in a tree seedling's life is the first few months after transplanting. Biochar's benefits are many: It improves the soil's ability to hold water and makes it less acidic. It provides a welcoming habitat for microbes, which support plant growth. It holds onto fertilizer and releases it over time, decreasing the need for repeat applications of fertilizer, which cuts labor and supply costs.

Pacific Biochar - Put Carbon Safely Back in the Ground and Leave a Legacy of Fertile Soil.

Charcoal is the lightweight black carbon and ash residue hydrocarbon produced by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis — the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen. This process is called charcoal burning. The finished charcoal consists largely of carbon. The advantage of using charcoal instead of just burning wood is the removal of the water and other components. This allows charcoal to burn to a higher temperature, and give off very little smoke (regular wood gives off a good amount of steam, organic volatiles, and unburnt carbon particles — soot — in its smoke).

Carbon Capture - Offsets

Enhanced Weathering is a process that aims to accelerate the natural weathering by spreading finely ground silicate rock, such as basalt, onto surfaces which speeds up chemical reactions between rocks, water, and air. It also removes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, permanently storing it in solid carbonate minerals or ocean alkalinity. The latter also slows ocean acidification. Although existing mine tailings or alkaline industrial silicate minerals (such as steel slags, construction & demolition waste, or ash from biomass incineration) may be used at first, mining more basalt might eventually be required to limit climate change. Undo.

Efficient Stoves saves Trees and Forests and Reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Soil pore structure is key to carbon storage. If we can design or breed crops with rooting characteristics that favor this kind of soil porosity and therefore that favor soil carbon stabilization, that would be a pretty smart way to design systems that can build carbon faster.

Microbial Inoculant or soil inoculants are agricultural amendments that use beneficial endophytes (microbes) to promote plant health. Many of the microbes involved form symbiotic relationships with the target crops where both parties benefit (mutualism). While microbial inoculants are applied to improve plant nutrition, they can also be used to promote plant growth by stimulating plant hormone production.

Nitrifying Bacteria are chemolithotrophic organisms that include species of the genera Nitrosomonas, Nitrosococcus, Nitrobacter and Nitrococcus. These bacteria get their energy by the oxidation of inorganic nitrogen compounds. Types include ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB). Many species of nitrifying bacteria have complex internal membrane systems that are the location for key enzymes in nitrification: ammonia monooxygenase (which oxidizes ammonia to hydroxylamine), hydroxylamine oxidoreductase (which oxidizes hydroxylamine to nitric oxide - which is oxidized to nitrite by a currently unidentified enzyme), and nitrite oxidoreductase (which oxidizes nitrite to nitrate. Nitrifying bacteria convert the most reduced form of soil nitrogen, ammonia, into its most oxidized form, nitrate. In itself, this is important for soil ecosystem function, in controlling losses of soil nitrogen through leaching and denitrification of nitrate. Nitrifiers also contribute to other important processes, including nitrous oxide production, methane oxidation, degradation of organic compounds, and carbon monoxide oxidation. The development of 15N-based techniques has increased significantly our ability to dissect soil nitrogen transformations and their rates, while molecular techniques now enable characterization of soil nitrifier community structure and changes in species composition. These approaches are increasing our understanding of the ecology of soil-nitrifying bacteria and provide the potential for determining relationships between diversity, community structure, and ecosystem function in this important group of organisms.

Cation-Exchange Capacity is a measure of how many cations can be retained on soil particle surfaces. Negative charges on the surfaces of soil particles bind positively-charged atoms or molecules (cations), but allow these to exchange with other positively charged particles in the surrounding soil water. This is one of the ways that solid materials in soil alter the chemistry of the soil.

Bio-Fertilizer is a substance which contains living microorganisms which, when applied to seeds, plant surfaces, or soil, colonize the rhizosphere or the interior of the plant and promotes growth by increasing the supply or availability of primary nutrients to the host plant. Biofertilizers add nutrients through the natural processes of nitrogen fixation, solubilizing phosphorus, and stimulating plant growth through the synthesis of growth-promoting substances. Biofertilizers can be expected to reduce the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. The microorganisms in biofertilizers restore the soil's natural nutrient cycle and build soil organic matter. Through the use of biofertilizers, healthy plants can be grown, while enhancing the sustainability and the health of the soil. Since they play several roles, a preferred scientific term for such beneficial bacteria is "plant-growth promoting rhizobacteria" (PGPR). Therefore, they are extremely advantageous in enriching soil fertility and fulfilling plant nutrient requirements by supplying the organic nutrients through microorganism and their byproducts. Hence, biofertilizers do not contain any chemicals which are harmful to the living soil. Biofertilizers provide "eco-friendly" organic agro-input. Biofertilizers such as Rhizobium, Azotobacter, Azospirilium and blue green algae (BGA) have been in use a long time. Rhizobium inoculant is used for leguminous crops. Azotobacter can be used with crops like wheat, maize, mustard, cotton, potato and other vegetable crops. Azospirillum inoculations are recommended mainly for sorghum, millets, maize, sugarcane and wheat. Blue green algae belonging to a general cyanobacteria genus, Nostoc or Anabaena or Tolypothrix or Aulosira, fix atmospheric nitrogen and are used as inoculations for paddy crop grown both under upland and low-land conditions. Anabaena in association with water fern Azolla contributes nitrogen up to 60 kg/ha/season and also enriches soils with organic matter. Other types of bacteria, so-called phosphate-solubilizing bacteria, such as Pantoea agglomerans strain P5 or Pseudomonas putida strain P13, are able to solubilize the insoluble phosphate from organic and inorganic phosphate sources. In fact, due to immobilization of phosphate by mineral ions such as Fe, Al and Ca or organic acids, the rate of available phosphate (Pi) in soil is well below plant needs. In addition, chemical Pi fertilizers are also immobilized in the soil, immediately, so that less than 20 percent of added fertilizer is absorbed by plants. Therefore, reduction in Pi resources, on one hand, and environmental pollutions resulting from both production and applications of chemical Pi fertilizer, on the other hand, have already demanded the use of phosphate-solubilizing bacteria or phosphate biofertilizers.

Composting - Waste Fertilizer - Activated Carbon

Reactive Nitrogen is a term used for a variety of nitrogen compounds that support growth directly or indirectly.

Nutrient becomes deadly pollutant
Nitrogen Footprint Calculator
Fertilizer Industry

Nitrates (PDF)

Mycorrhiza and less Phosphorus

Ocean Solution is Ocean-Mined Minerals Liquid Organic Fertilizer and Plant Mineralizer.

Why Rock Dust Works and Doesn't Work (45 mins. youtube)

Rock Dust Local - Rock Dust - Rock Dust

Rockdust also known as rock powders, rock minerals, rock flour, soil remineralization, and mineral fines, consists of finely crushed rock, processed by natural or mechanical means, containing minerals and trace elements widely used in organic farming practices.

Rice FarmerGeotherapy: Innovative Methods of Soil Fertility Restoration, Carbon Sequestration, and Reversing CO2 Increase (book on amazon)

Sea 90

Calcified Seaweed (youtube)

Blood Meal
Human Excrement Fertilizers
Biosolids - Bio-Solids
Rich Earth Institute
Controlled Burn
Synthetic Fertilizers
Compost Tea

Microdosing: Increasing crop production in sub-Saharan Africa.

Pumice Soil Amendment helps retain optimal moisture promotes root growth and nutrient enrichment. Substrate materials such as pumice make for a better growth environment.

Myco Bliss Organic Mycorrhizal Fungi promotes Vigorous Plant and Root growth - Improved ability to get nutrients and water uptake from soil, Decreased amount of watering and fertilization, Enables the soil to retain nutrients for longer and increase nutrient use efficiency, Healthier and denser root systems Reduces transplant shock. Mushrooms.

Soil Moist Granular JRM 8LB 1000-2000 Microns. Water Storing Soil Additive that reduces Plant watering by 50-Percent. Reduces Transplant Shock And Soil Compaction.

Nitrogen Fixing

Nitrogen Fixation is a process by which nitrogen in the air is converted into ammonia (NH3) or related nitrogenous compounds. Atmospheric nitrogen, is molecular dinitrogen (N2), a relatively nonreactive molecule that is metabolically useless to all but a few microorganisms. Biological nitrogen fixation converts N2 into ammonia, which is metabolized by most organisms. Nitrogen fixation is essential to life because fixed inorganic nitrogen compounds are required for the biosynthesis of all nitrogen-containing organic compounds, such as amino acids and proteins, nucleoside triphosphates and nucleic acids. As part of the nitrogen cycle, it is essential for agriculture and the manufacture of fertilizer. It is also, indirectly, relevant to the manufacture of all chemical compounds that contain nitrogen, which includes explosives, most pharmaceuticals, and dyes. Nitrogen fixation is carried out naturally in the soil by a wide range of microorganisms termed diazotrophs that include bacteria such as Azotobacter, and archaea. Some nitrogen-fixing bacteria have symbiotic relationships with some plant groups, especially legumes. Looser non-symbiotic relationships between diazotrophs and plants are often referred to as associative, as seen in nitrogen fixation on rice roots. Nitrogen fixation also occurs between some termites and fungi. It also occurs naturally in the air by means of NOx production by lightning. All biological nitrogen fixation is effected by enzymes called nitrogenases. These enzymes contain iron, often with a second metal, usually molybdenum but sometimes vanadium.

Nitrogen Fixing Crops (wiki) - Cover Crops - Global Warming

American Farmers used over 24 Billion Pounds of Nitrogen Fertilizer in 2011. And making nitrogen fertilizer requires fossil fuels like natural gas or coal. In a single year, production of fertilizer in the United States emitted as much carbon dioxide as two million cars. Trees can't conjure nitrogen from thin air, but microbes can. Many microbes have a special enzyme they use to gather nitrogen from the air and turn it into a form that plants can use, a process called nitrogen fixation. Endophyte is an endosymbiont, often a bacterium or fungus, that lives within a plant for at least part of its life cycle without causing apparent disease. Endosymbiont is any organism that lives within the body or cells of another organism in a symbiotic relationship with the host body or cell, often but not always to mutual benefit.

Perennial Grain is a grain crop that lives and remains productive for two or more years, rather than growing for only one season before harvest, like most grains and annual crops. While many fruit, nut and forage crops are long-lived perennial plants, all major grain crops presently used in large-scale agriculture are annuals or short-lived perennials grown as annuals. Scientists from several nations have argued that perennial versions of today's grain crops could be developed and that these perennial grains could make grain agriculture more sustainable. Most agricultural land is devoted to the production of grain crops: cereal, oilseed, and legume crops occupy 75% of US and 69% of global croplands. These grains include such crops as wheat, rice, and maize; together they provide over 70% of human food calories. All these grain crops are currently annual plants which are generally planted into cultivated soil. Frequent cultivation puts soil at risk of loss and degradation. This "central dilemma" of agriculture in which current food production undermines the potential for future food production could be escaped by developing perennial grain crops that do not require tilling the soil each year. No-till technology enables short-lived (annual) crops to be grown with less intense tillage, but perennial plants provide the most protection for the soil. Methods for developing perennial grains. Three ways of developing perennial grain crops have been proposed: The primary gene pools of several domesticated grain crops include perennial types, even though these crops are generally grown as annuals. Pigeon pea is a large-seeded grain legume (pulse) with both short-season (annual) and long-season (perennial) varieties.  If the highest-yielding annual varieties were hybridized with the longest-living varieties, robustly perennial, high-yielding varieties could be developed. The secondary or tertiary gene pools of most domesticated grain crops include perennial species. Gene exchange between such species is possible, though sometimes difficult. Genes enhancing the agronomic traits of wild perennials, increased seed size, for example, could be brought in from domestic grain relatives. Alternately, genes increasing the lifespan of domesticated grains could be obtained by crossing with wild perennial relatives. For example, domestic Asian rice can be crossed with wild perennial rice species to exchange genes for many traits. Wild perennial plants with oil-, carbohydrate- or protein-rich seeds could be domesticated without any wide hybridization. Although our grain crops were all domesticated thousands of years ago, modern genetic theory and molecular genetic techniques may greatly accelerate the process compared with the original process of domestication. The Rodale Institute and The Land Institute have each had plant breeding projects in which a wild, perennial grass, Thinopyrum intermedium was subjected to recurrent cycles of selection for improved grain traits.. The land Institute since has begun marketing their work under the trade name Kernza. Advantages of perennial crops. Several claims have been published: Greater access to resources through a longer season.Perennial plants typically emerge earlier than annuals in the spring and go dormant in the autumn well after annual plants have died. The longer growing season allows greater interception of sunlight and rainfall. For example, In Minnesota, annual soybean seedlings emerge from the soil in early June. By this time perennial alfalfa has grown so much that it is ready for the first harvest. Therefore, by the time a soybean crop has just begun to photosynthesize, a field of alfalfa has already produced about 40% of the season’s production. Greater access to resources through a deeper rooting zone. Most long—lived plants construct larger, deeper root systems than short-lived plants adapted to the same region . Deeper roots enable perennials to "mine" a larger volume of soil each year. A larger volume of soil also available for exploitation per unit of cropland also means a larger volume of soil water serves as a reservoir for periods without rainfall. More efficient use of soil nutrients. Leaching of nitrogen from fertilizer has been found to be much lower under perennial crops such as alfalfa (lucerne) than annual crops such as maize. A similar phenomenon is seen in unfertilized fields harvested for wild hay. While adjacent wheat fields required annual inputs of fertilizer, the wild perennial grasses continued to produce nitrogen-rich hay for 75 to 100 years with no appreciable decline in productivity or soil fertility. Presumably, the larger root systems of the perennial plants and the microbial community they support intercept and cycle nutrients passing through the system much more efficiently than do the ephemeral root systems of crop plants. Sustainable production on marginal lands. Cassman et al. (2003) wrote that for large areas in poor regions of the world, “annual cereal cropping …is not likely to be sustainable over the longer term because of severe erosion risk. Perennial crops and agroforestry systems are better suited to these environments.” Current perennial crops and agroforestry systems do not produce grain. Grain provides greater food security than forage or fruit because it can be eaten directly by humans (unlike forage) and it can be stored (unlike fruit) for consumption during the winter or dry season. Reduced Soil erosion U.S. Forest Service et al. cite perennial grasses as a preventative for soil erosion. Perennials of all kinds establish thick root systems which tie up soil and prevent surface erosion by wind and water. Since water runoff is slowed, it has a longer time to soak in and enter the groundwater system. Net water inflow into streams is marginally reduced due to groundwater infusion, but this also reduces high flow rates in streams associated with fast-flowing water-based erosion of streambeds. Increased wildlife populations U.S. Forest Service et all cite slower release of water into streams, which makes water levels more consistent instead of alternating between dry and flash-flood situations common to deserts. Consistent water levels contribute to increased wildlife populations of fish, amphibians, waterfowl, and mammals dependent upon a consistent water source. Reduced weed competition" - Minimizing tillage and herbicide applications. Improved soil microbiomes - Perennial grain crops may nurture beneficial soil microbiomes, as the frequent soil disturbance required in annual crop production is disruptive to these microbiomes. Sequester more carbon - It is perenial grains may sequester more carbon, due to better landscape management, and maintaining more cropland in production Potential disadvantages of perennial crops. Does not address food security today. Perennial grain crops are in the early stages of development and may take many years before achieving yields equivalent to annual grains. Makes crop rotation more difficult. Crop rotations with perennial systems are possible, but the full rotation will necessarily take longer. For example, a perennial hay crop. like alfalfa is commonly rotated with annual crops or other perennial hay crops after 3–5 years. The slower pace of rotation—compared with annual crops—could allow a greater buildup of pathogens, pests or weeds in the perennial phase of the rotation. Builds soil organic matter at the expense of plant productivity. In the absence of tillage, and in soils with depleted organic matter, crops with large root systems may build up organic matter to the point that nearly all of the soil nitrogen and phosphorus is immobilized. When this happens, productivity may decline until either the organic matter builds up to a level where equilibrium is reached between nutrient mineralization and nutrient immobilization or fertilizer is added to the system. Hydrological impacts. Perennial plants may intercept and utilize more of the incoming rainfall. than annual plants each year. This may result in water tables dropping and/or reduced surface flow to rivers. Reduced nutrient delivery to downstream farms. Wide replacement of annual with perennial plants on agricultural landscapes could stabilize soils and reduce nitrate leaching to the point that the delivery of sediment and dissolved nitrogen to downstream landscapes could be reduced. Farmers in these areas may currently rely on these nutrient inputs. On the other hand, other sectors might benefit from improved water quality. Improved habitat for pests. If fields are not left bare for a portion of the year, rodents and insects populations may increase. Burning of the stubble of perennial grains could reduce these populations, but burning may not be permitted in some areas. Furthermore, rodents and insects living underground would survive burning, whereas tillage disrupts their habitat.

New Rhizobia-diatom symbiosis solves long-standing marine mystery. Scientists have discovered a new partnership between a marine diatom and a bacterium that can account for a large share of nitrogen fixation in vast regions of the ocean.


Worm are many different distantly related animals that typically have a long cylindrical tube-like body, no limbs, and no eyes. Worms vary in size from microscopic to over 1 metre (3.3 ft) in length for marine polychaete worms (bristle worms), 6.7 metres (22 ft) for the African giant earthworm, Microchaetus rappi, and 58 metres (190 ft) for the marine nemertean worm (bootlace worm), Lineus longissimus. Various types of worm occupy a small variety of parasitic niches, living inside the bodies of other animals. Free-living worm species do not live on land, but instead, live in marine or freshwater environments, or underground by burrowing. A worm is any of numerous relatively small elongated soft-bodied animals especially of the phyla Annelida and Chaetognatha and Nematoda and Nemertea and Platyhelminthes; also many insect larvae.

Make a Worm Farm - Uncle Jims Worm Farm - Garden Worms

Worm Charming are methods of attracting earthworms from the ground.

How to get earthworm by applying 220 volts to the ground (youtube)

Official Soil Series Descriptions (OSD) with series extent mapping capabilities

Vermicompost is the product of the composting process using various species of worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, and other earthworms, to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast, also called worm castings, worm humus or worm manure, is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by an earthworm. These castings have been shown to contain reduced levels of contaminants and a higher saturation of nutrients than do organic materials before vermicomposting. Containing water-soluble nutrients, vermicompost is an excellent, nutrient-rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner. This process of producing vermicompost is called vermicomposting. While vermicomposting is generally known as a nutrient rich source of organic compost used in farming and small scale sustainable, organic farming, the process of vermicasting is undergoing research as a treatment for organic waste in sewage and wastewater plants around the world.

Salt - Soil Salinity

Electron Shells of Sodium, Atomic Number 11 Soil Salinity is the Salt content in the soil; the process of increasing the salt content is known as salinization. Salts occur naturally within soils and water. Salination can be caused by natural processes such as mineral weathering or by the gradual withdrawal of an ocean. It can also come about through artificial processes such as irrigation. A soil with excess salts where sodium chloride (NaCl) predominates. Soils vary depending on various chemicals present. Soil Acidification.

Alkali Soil are clay soils with high pH (> 8.5), due to the presence of excessive sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) and a poor soil structure and a low infiltration capacity. Often they have a hard calcareous layer at 0.5 to 1 metre depth. Alkali soils owe their unfavorable physico-chemical properties mainly to the dominating presence of sodium carbonate, which causes the soil to swell and difficult to clarify/settle. They derive their name from the alkali metal group of elements, to which sodium belongs, and which can induce basicity. Sometimes these soils are also referred to as alkaline sodic soils. Alkaline soils are basic, but not all basic soils are alkaline.

Soil Salinity Control
Salt Remediation
Sodium Affected Soils (PDF)
Soil Drainage and Salt (PDF)
Agricultural Lime
Calcium Nitrate
Epsom Salt used as a Foliar Spray or Soil Additive will help tomato and pepper plants grow and produce larger, tastier yields.
Soil Conditioner
Breakthrough in salt-tolerance in plants research could lead to new salt tolerant varieties of crops.
Consider The Salt-Tolerant Potato
Salt Farm Texel pitch at World Water Week 2014 in Stockholm, Sweden (youtube)

Desalination (sea water)

Rice that can grow in seawater. Chinese scientists have developed several types of rice that can be grown in seawater, potentially creating enough food for 200 million people.

Water Management

Rice Farmer in Field with water Water Resource Management is the activity of planning, developing, distributing and managing the optimum use of water resources. It is a sub-set of water cycle management. Water resource management planning has regard to all the competing demands for water and seeks to allocate water on an equitable basis to satisfy all uses and demands. One of the biggest concerns for our water-based resources in the future is the sustainability of the current and future water resource allocation. As water becomes more scarce, the importance of how it is managed grows vastly. Finding a balance between what is needed by humans and what is needed in the environment is an important step in the sustainability of water resources. Agriculture is the largest user of the world's freshwater resources, consuming 70 percent.

Water Management - Dry Land Farming

Irrigation (drip) - Automatic Watering Systems

Erosion - Sinkholes

Cover Crop has many beneficial reasons. It helps manage soil erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases, biodiversity and wildlife in an agroecosystem, or an ecological system managed and largely shaped by humans across a range of intensities to produce food, feed, or fiber. 17 million acres of farmland use cover crops, that's only 10% of farm acres in the U.S.. Currently, not many countries are known for using the cover crop method. Cover crops are of interest in sustainable agriculture as many of them improve the sustainability of agroecosystem attributes and may also indirectly improve qualities of neighboring natural ecosystems. Farmers choose to grow and manage specific cover crop types based on their own needs and goals, influenced by the biological, environmental, social, cultural, and economic factors of the food system in which they operate (Snapp et al. 2005). The farming practice of cover crops has been recognized as climate-smart agriculture by the White House. Cover crops helps to lower soil temperature which is beneficial to microbial health.

Crop Rotation - No-Till - Nitrogen Fixing - Carbon

Cover Crops - Woodchips in Garden - Tub Grinders

Mulch - Vegetable Garden Mulches - Good soil retains water but also drains well.

Drainage Systems - Catch Basins (youtube) - Landscape Drainage Solutions

Hydroponics - Fortification - Drinking Water Management

Contour Plowing is the farming practice of plowing and/or planting across a slope following its elevation contour lines. These contour lines create a water break which reduces the formation of rills and gullies during times of heavy water run-off; which is a major cause of soil erosion. The water break also allows more time for the water to settle into the soil. In contour plowing, the ruts made by the plow run perpendicular rather than parallel to the slopes, generally resulting in furrows that curve around the land and are level. This method is also known for preventing tillage erosion. Tillage erosion is the soil movement and erosion by tilling a given plot of land. A similar practice is contour bunding where stones are placed around the contours of slopes. Contour ploughing helps to reduce soil erosion. Soil erosion prevention practices such as this can drastically decrease negative effects associated with soil erosion such as reduced crop productivity, worsened water quality, lower effective reservoir water levels, flooding, and habitat destruction. Contour farming is considered an active form of sustainable agriculture.

Moisture Sensors for Soil Monitoring

Soil Sensors monitors environmental conditions in your garden. Water Valve automatically gives your plants exactly the amount of water they need. Soil Sensor science of monitoring soil conditions, including soil moisture.

G Thrive hardware and software field monitoring solution measuring 5 key parameters Sunlight, Air Temperature, Soil Temperature, Soil Moisture (volumetric), Electrical Conductivity (EC). Delivers that information wirelessly to your smartphone or laptop.

Soil Moisture Meter (amazon)

Water Sensors - Sensor Technologies

Sensprout monitors the level of moisture.

Leaf Sensors can tell Farmers when Crops need to be Watered.

Engineers make wearable sensors for plants, enabling measurements of water use in crops.

New wearable technology for plants. Plants can't speak up when they are thirsty. And visual signs, such as shriveling or browning leaves, don't start until most of their water is gone. To detect water loss earlier, researchers have created a wearable sensor for plant leaves. The system wirelessly transmits data to a smartphone app, allowing for remote management of drought stress in gardens and crops.

Mist: Sprinkler System Sprinkler Controller + Soil Sensors = Perfect Watering. Save 80% in Drought Mode. iOS/Android App.

Forage Boost - SumaGrow - Sensors (ai)

Hydrogels is a network of polymer chains that are hydrophilic, sometimes found as a colloidal gel in which water is the dispersion medium. Hydrogels are highly absorbent (they can contain over 90% water) natural or synthetic polymeric networks. Hydrogels also possess a degree of flexibility very similar to natural tissue, due to their significant water content. Hydrogels.

Soil Conditioning Technology

Soil Nutrient Management (epa)

Soil Food Web is the community of organisms living all or part of their lives in the soil. It describes a complex living system in the soil and how it interacts with the environment, plants, and animals. Food webs describe the transfer of energy between species in an ecosystem.

Landscaping (lawns) - Farming Knowledge

More than 50 percent America’s Topsoil has Eroded Away. 40 percent of rainwater runs off uncovered dry land soil. But organic matter can hold up to 90 percent of its weight in water and releases that moisture slowly over time, particularly helpful in areas prone to drought. Soil, at its base, is 50 percent gas and water, and roughly 45 percent minerals such as sand, silt and clay. The remainder is organic matter—decomposing plants and animals. For being such a small portion of dirt, organic matter plays a huge role. It serves as food for microorganisms that do everything from store water to provide nutrients for plants and control pests. Researchers are learning more and more about the exchange between plants and fungi, bacteria and other organisms in the soil, said Robert Myers, a professor of soil sciences at the University of Missouri. Promoting soil health comes down to three basic practices: Make sure the soil is covered with plants at all times, diversify what it grows and don’t disrupt it. What this means in practice is rotating crops, so fields aren’t trying to support the same plant year after year. And it means using techniques like “cover-cropping”–planting a secondary plant like grasses, legumes or vegetables–between rows of crops or on other exposed soil instead of leaving it bare. Using a cover crop protects the soil, reduces erosion, encourages biodiversity and returns nutrients like nitrogen to the earth. Most U.S. acres planted with major crops—about 60 percent—were still tilled in 2010-2011.

Human Senses - Artificial Sensors

‘Whenever the soil is rich the people flourish, physically and economically. Wherever the soil is wasted the people are wasted. A poor soil produces only a poor people—poor economically, poor spiritually and intellectually, poor physically.’ George Washington Carver (wiki)

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