How does soil affect agriculture


Environmental Factors Affecting Agricultural Production

  1. Fertile soil aids the production of food and cash crops.
  2. Fertile soil leads to the production of forage crops and plants for grazing.
  3. It minimizes the use of fertilizers and manures.
  4. It leads to multiplication of beneficial soil organisms.
  5. Fertile soil generally leads to reduction in cost of production.
  6. Soil Types

Soil is a critical part of successful agriculture and is the original source of the nutrients that we use to grow crops. The nutrients move from the soil into plants that we eat like tomatoes. Nutrients are also a part of the food animals (like cows) eat. In the end, we benefit from healthy soil.


How does Agri agriculture affect the soil?

 · How Industrial Agriculture Affects Our Soil. In soil-based agriculture, soil health is the most important foundation of a healthy farm ecosystem. Yet most of the common farming techniques employed in industrial crop production, such as synthetic fertilizer application and monocropping, can degrade soil over time, causing a cascade of problems necessitating the …

How does soil health change in agro-ecosystems?

 · By Sarah Moore Reviewed by Georgios Christofidis, Ph.D. Soil erosion can negatively impact agriculture by reducing crop yields and quality. In an era where the population continues to grow rapidly, the agricultural sector is being put under increasing pressure to respond and produce enough food for our growing society.

What is happening to the soil on US farms?

Agriculture alters the natural cycling of nutrients in soil. Intensive cultivation and harvesting of crops for human or animal consumption can effectively mine the soil of plant nutrients. In order…

Why is soil health important in agriculture?

 · Soil explained and soil erosion explanation. Soil is the foundation of life. It is a medium for trees and plant growth and a habitat for many insects and other organisms. Agroforestry and permaculture soil intro. As much as 95 percent of all our food comes from soil. Soil also plays a key role in filtering water and absorbing carbon.


How agriculture has affected soil and land?

Half of the topsoil on the planet has been lost in the last 150 years. In addition to erosion, soil quality is affected by other aspects of agriculture. These impacts include compaction, loss of soil structure, nutrient degradation, and soil salinity.

Which soil is most important for agriculture?

Loamy-texturedLoamy-textured soils are commonly described as medium textured with functionally-equal contributions of sand, silt, and clay. These medium-textured soils are often considered ideal for agriculture as they are easily cultivated by farmers and can be highly productive for crop growth.

Why does soil matter to agriculture & to us?

Soil provides nutrients that sustain plants for food and energy, and anchors their roots. By absorbing, releasing and purifying most of the water on earth, it supplies us with drinking water, regulates excess rainfall and prevents floods.

How can soil erosion affect agriculture?

Agriculture. Soil erosion removes valuable top soil which is the most productive part of the soil profile for agricultural purposes. The loss of this top soil results in lower yields and higher production costs. When top soil is gone, erosion can cause rills and gullies that make the cultivation of paddocks impossible.

Why are soils important?

Healthy soils are essential for healthy plant growth, human nutrition, and water filtration. Healthy soil supports a landscape that is more resilient to the impacts of drought, flood, or fire. Soil helps to regulate the Earth’s climate and stores more carbon than all of the world’s forests combined.

How important are soil resources in agriculture industry and society?

Soil is one of the earth’s most important natural resources. It underpins human food production systems, supports the cultivation of vegetation for feed, fibre and fuel, and has the potential to help combat and mitigate climate change.

What are 5 reasons why soil is important?

Root System Support. The soil affords roots systems support. … Soil Provides Roots With Nutrients and Minerals. … Exchange of Oxygen and Gases. … Protection From Erosion. … Marine Soils Protect Coastlines. … Soil Filtering Properties. … Soil Holds Water. … Decomposition of Organic Materials.More items…

How does soil help a plant?

Soil helps anchor plants and provides them essential elements of water and nutrients. Plants prevent soil erosion and provide organic matter.

Which soil is best for agriculture in India?

Suitable Crops: Loamy soil is ideal for growing crops such as wheat, sugarcane, cotton, jute, pulses, and oilseeds. Vegetables also grow well in this soil.

Which land is best for agriculture?

1. Punjab is the best state for agriculture purposes. Its land is fertile and irrigated by the river of North India.

Which soil is best for agriculture class 10?

The loamy soil consists of sand, clay, and silt. Loamy soil is ideal for growing crops such as wheat.

Is clay soil good for agriculture?

There are several plants that will grow on clay soil. It is good for crops like paddy, which require a lot of water. Clay soil is used for making toys, pots, and many other purposes. Heavy clay soils are slow to warm, so planting early spring crops could not be possible.

How does soil erosion affect agriculture?

Soil erosion can negatively impact agriculture by reducing crop yields and quality. In an era where the population continues to grow rapidly, the agricultural sector is being put under increasing pressure to respond and produce enough food for our growing society.

What are the factors that contribute to soil erosion?

Another major factor contributing to soil erosion is climate change .

How much of the world’s agricultural land is affected by erosion?

It is estimated that as much as 80% of the world ’ s agricultural land is suffering from what is considered moderate or severe levels of erosion. Also, almost all human food source comes from the land, with an estimated 99.7% of food calories coming from this source and just 0.3% coming from aquatic ecosystems.

Why is organic farming important?

Switching to organic farming methods is being encouraged in the agricultural sector not only to reduce soil erosion and product crop yields but also for the other numerous environmental and health benefits it brings.

Why do farmers switch to row crops?

Also, there has been a recent trend in the US for farmers to switch to certain row crops, like corn, because its value has doubled, while its susceptibility to soil erosion is putting entire farms at risk of financial failure.

How many hectares of land are abandoned each year?

Studies have shown that around 10 million hectares of land are abandoned each year due to this lack of crop productivity caused by soil erosion. This effects some regions more than others, with Africa, Asia, and South America averaging at a loss of 30 to 40 hectares annually.

Can grazing animals cause soil erosion?

Agricultural processes themselves can also cause soil erosion. Grazing animals can induce this effect by eating the plants covering the topsoil, exposing it to the elements, and churning up the ground pacing back and forth over its surface.

How does soil contribute to food production?

Our soils support 95 percent of all food production, and by 2060, our soils will be asked to give us as much food as we have consumed in the last 500 years. They filter our water. They are one of our most cost-effective reservoirs for sequestering carbon. They are our foundation for biodiversity. And they are vibrantly alive, teeming with 4500 kilo’s of biological life in every acre. Yet in the last 150 years, we’ve lost half of the basic building block that makes soil productive. The societal and environmental costs of soil loss and degradation in the United States alone are now estimated to be as high as $85 billion every single year. Like any relationship, our living soil needs our tenderness. It’s time we changed everything we thought we knew about soil. Let’s make this the century of living soil.

What is the impact of exploitation on soil?

These exploitations are massively polluting and source of soil erosion. For example, in South America, we consider that 60% of the soil is degraded and 70% of this degradation comes from the land used to grow food for animals.

Why is land often altered?

Land is commonly altered from its natural landscape when it rids its physical composition from soil degradation. For this reason, the transformed land is unable to soak up water, making flooding more frequent. In other words, soil degradation takes away the soil’s natural capability of holding water thus contributing to more and more cases of flooding.

How do pesticides affect the environment?

Pesticides have several impacts on the environment. In terms of soil and soil degradation, they are responsible for the phenomenon of erosion, which is the loss of the first soil layer. This is due to the lack of plants and trees that can keep the soil strong, but also the lack of insects which are killed by pesticides.

What happens when animals are spread over a large area?

But even if animals are spread over a big territory, the soil can suffer from degradation.

What is the film “Soil Resources” about?

This animated film tells the reality of soil resources around the world, covering the issues of degradation, urbanization, land grabbing and overexploitation; the film offers options to make the way we manage our soils more sustainable.

What is soil degradation?

Soil degradation is a process in which the value of the land and its biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human actions and non-natural phenomenons. The degradation comes from several sources but it is mainly from extensive agriculture.

How do minerals affect agriculture?

How Minerals in the Soil Affect Agriculture? Plants need nutrients and minerals to thrive. These chemical elements are essential for their growth, metabolic functioning, and completion of their life cycle. Plants absorb carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (O) from the air.

What are the minerals that are important for plant growth?

Mineral sources like amphiboles and pyroxenes are considered as important reservoirs of Mg, Fe, Ca, Si, and most of the micronutrients . The effects of mineral nutrients on plant growth are complex and the list of minerals and their vital roles in plant development are given below.

What is the role of zinc in plants?

Zinc (Zn): Zinc helps in the production of the plant hormones responsible for stem elongation and leaf expansion.

What are the elements that make up plants?

Major Elements. Nitrogen (N): Nitrogen is a vital element in plant growth. It is found in all plant cells, plant proteins, hormones, and chlorophyll. Leguminous plants fix atmospheric nitrogen in their roots which is then utilized for various plant processes. Phosphorus (P): Phosphorus can transfer energy from sunlight to plants.

What are the minerals that plants take in?

There are many mineral sources, for example, K-feldspars, micas, and illite.

What are the elements that plants absorb?

Plants absorb carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (O) from the air. The remaining essential elements are absorbed from the soil or through the externally amended fertilizers. Soil is a major nutritional source for plants. Macronutrients are consumed by the plant in large quantities whereas micronutrients are needed in smaller quantities.

What is the function of phosphate in plants?

Phosphorus (P): Phosphorus can transfer energy from sunlight to plants. It initiates early root and shoot growth and hastens maturity. Phosphorus also acts as an indicator mineral because mycorrhizae and other specific microbes can only convert inorganic phosphate to its usable form.

What is celery farming?

Celery (Apium graveolens L.) farming is among the greatest income-generating activities in Geyve town of Sakarya province . In order to gain optimum yields in celery farming, soil characteristics and plant nutrient contents should be well-known. This study was conducted to determine physical and chemical characteristics, nutrient and heavy metal contents of celery-cultivated on alluvial soils of Geyve town and nutrient and heavy metal contents of celery leaves. Celery fields had different soil textures (loamy, silty-loam, clay-loam, silty-clay-loam, silty-clay and clay), were neutral in pH, slightly alkaline with moderate and high lime contents. There were not any salinity problems in the celery fields. Soil organic matter contents varied between 1.02 – 5.15%, total N between 0.04 – 0.25%, available P between 9.40 – 242.50 mg/kg and available K between 172.40 – 447.70 mg/kg. Soil available Cu, Mn, Fe, Pb, Zn, Ni and Cr contents were respectively measured as 10.13, 8.80, 4.26, 0.90, 0.82, 0.40 and 0.009 mg/kg. According to soil pollution regulations, there were not any heavy metal pollutions in celery fields. Celery leaves did not have any problems with regard to heavy metal and nutrient contents, except for K.

What is the principal medium of plant growth?

Soil is the principal medium of plant growth for providing nutrients in adequate manner. At the dawn of the civilization, agriculture based sedentary civilizations have been grown up in fertile soil of the river. Over time, with the increase of population and food demand, methods of agriculture and stress on soil have been accelerated …

How does erosion affect agriculture?

Erosion from wind and water annually robs our nation’s farms of billions of tons of soil. In fact, US farms are currently losing twice as much topsoil to erosion per year as the Great Plains lost in a typical year at the height of the 1930s Dust Bowl, one of the most devastating agricultural and social disasters in our history.

What happens when soil is left bare?

But when soil is left bare and becomes damaged and deplete d—dry, compacted, and low in organic matter—then wind and water can more easily displace it. The results can be catastrophic, as the Great Plains region of the central United States discovered in the 1930s. But even small changes year after year can gradually cause big problems.

What happened to the grassland in the 1930s?

Then, starting in 1930, a sustained period of severe drought began, putting bare, degraded soil at the mercy of the region’s high winds. The resulting dust storms brought widespread devastation, bankrupting farms …

What were the effects of the Great Depression on the Great Plains?

During the early decades of the 20th century, farmers dramatically expanded unsustainable grazing and farming throughout the Great Plains. In particular, farmers encouraged by rising wheat prices in the 1910s and 1920s plowed up millions of acres of deep-rooted native grasses and adopted farming methods that made the soil a sitting duck for erosion. Later, when the Great Depression struck and wheat prices fell, desperate farmers plowed even more grassland.

What is the cause of soil erosion?

Erosion occurs when soil is displaced by wind or water—washed off farms and deposited in ditches and streams, or blown across the landscape as dust. Healthy soil resists erosion well, especially if it is protected by plants above ground and roots below-ground year-round …

How can farmers reduce the impacts of floods and droughts?

Turning Soils into Sponges. An agricultural scientist shows how farmers can reduce the impacts of floods and droughts through sponge-like soils. Healthy soils not only make farms more climate-resilient, they can also help keep costs for farmers and taxpayers down in multiple ways:

Why is soil spongy?

Healthy soil is marked by its porous, “spongy” texture, produced by root growth as well as the activities of invertebrates such as earthworms and insects. This sponginess allows rainfall to infiltrate healthy soil deeply, making it less vulnerable to floods and droughts because more of the water that falls on it stays in it.

How does agriculture affect soil?

Agriculture alters the natural cycling of nutrients in soil. Intensive cultivation and harvesting of crops for human or animal consumption can effectively mine the soil of plant nutrients. In order to maintain soil fertility for sufficient crop yields, soil amendments are typically required.

What is the biggest effect of soil erosion?

Loss of Topsoil. Obviously, this is the biggest effect of soil erosion.

What are the two main parameters of topsoil?

Topsoil is the primary resource for plants to grow and crops to thrive and the main two parameters for this are Carbon and Nitrogen . The Nitrogen provides energy and Carbon is a tissue builder and plants require them in a range of ratios to enable suitable growth.

What is the cause of soil erosion?

Deforestation for Agriculture Is One of the Top Causes of Soil Erosion.

How to prevent erosion of soil?

Plants prevent wind and water erosion by covering the soil and binding the soil with their roots. The best choice of plants to prevent soil erosion are herbs, wild flowers and small trees.

What type of soil is best for a garden?

Loam soils seem to be the jackpot for all farmers. They include clay, sand, and silt and is the best possible combination of all negative and positive features. It is regarded as the best type of soil and is more gardener-friendly than any others as it does not require any additional investments.

What happens when the ground is barren?

Bare ground causes rain to run off swiftly, carrying with it sediment and soil nutrients. The result is erosion, less productive rangeland, and lower water quality.

How does soil health affect agriculture?

In agro-ecosystems, the soil health can change due to anthropogenic activities, such as preferred cropping practices and intensive land-use management , which can further impact soil functions. Previous assessment of soil health in agriculture mostly relates to soil eco-functions that are integrated with non-biological properties such as soil nutrients and soil structures. In recent years, biological properties such as soil microorganisms were considered as an essential composition in soil health as well. However, systematic reviews of soil health and its potential feedback to human society under different cropping practices are still limited. In this review, we discussed 1) the impact of common and novel cropping practices in agro-systems on soil health, 2) the evolution of plant–microbe–soil complex and the biochemical mechanisms under the pressure of agriculture that responsible for soil health, 3) changes in the concept of soil quality and health over recent decades in agro-systems and the key indicators currently used for evaluating soil health, and 4) issues in agroecosystems that affect soil health the most, particularly how various cropping practices have developed over time with human activities in agroecosystem. This knowledge, along with necessary policies, will help to ensure healthy soil—a crucial component for sustainable ecosystem development.

How does cropping affect soil health?

Cropping systems, including crop diversification, crop rotation and intercropping, and related agronomic practices used in agriculture impact soil health and quality from various spatial and temporal aspects ( Vukicevich et al., 2016 ). Cropping systems were initially designed to maximize yield from agro-systems, but modern agriculture has become increasingly concerned about the environmental sustainability of cropping systems ( Fargione et al., 2018 ). The goal of soil health maintenance is to ensure long-term stable high productivity and environmental sustainability of cropping systems under five essential function evaluation standards, namely nutrient cycling, water relations, biodiversity and habitat, filtering and buffering, and physical stability and support ( Hatfield et al., 2017 ). Fig. 1 illustrates an example of how an optimized cropping system increases soil health, relative to monoculture.

How have plants and microbes evolved?

Plants have co-evolved with microorganisms for more than 400 million years, since they left their aquatic environment to colonize the land to form very complicated soil–microbe–plant systems that preform many critical biological and ecological functions in nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, soil fertility maintenance, and ecosystem resilience ( Fierer, 2017; Remy et al., 1994 ). In agriculture, these soil-microbe-plant interactions are even stronger, considering that highly selected crop species are used in different cropping systems for food and fiber gains which also significantly enhance the “host effects” on soil microorganisms. As sessile organisms, plants developed multiple chemical signaling pathways during their co-evolution to invest and manage the root microbiome ( Berg and Smalla, 2009; Fierer, 2017 ). Fig. 2 is an example of chemical signaling pathways as the driving power of some critical plant–microbe interactions. Different plants can select specific rhizosphere microbial communities for their benefit ( Maarastawi et al., 2018 ). The composition of this specific microbial community, also called the ‘root microbiome,’ is constrained by the properties of the soil environment ( Chen et al., 2019) and heavily shaped by host plants ( Ellouze et al., 2014; Mhlongo et al., 2018 ). In particular, root exudates released by plants are important carbon and energy sources for soil microorganisms and can significantly change the soil physical–chemical properties, especially in the rhizosphere ( Ji et al., 2015 ), thus modifying the microhabitats to which microorganisms are exposed ( Maltais-Landry et al., 2014 ). Furthermore, these root exudates play critical roles in chemical signaling processes with soil microorganisms, which can further interfere with their eco-functions and soil health ( Mhlongo et al., 2018 ). For example, plant hormones, such as strigolactones, salicylic acid, jasmonic acid, ethylene, gibberellic acid, auxin and cytokinin, are common signaling compounds produced by plants that regulate plant–microbe recognition processes ( Bari and Jones, 2009 ). In particular, salicylic acid, jasmonic acids, and ethylene can trigger plant defense systems to prevent pathogen infections ( Bari and Jones, 2009; Maruri-López et al., 2019 ). Strigolactones are involved in plant defense signaling as well as stimulating hyphal branching in the presymbiotic stage of AM symbioses ( Kretzschmar et al., 2012) and triggering pathogen infection in plant root tissue with certain phenolic compounds ( Steinkellner et al., 2007 ). Flavonoids initiate symbiosis formation in the signaling of recognition process with symbiotic diazotrophs ( Miransari et al., 2013 ). Some peptides produced by plants are also involved in microbe–plant signaling and act as hormones ( Bari and Jones, 2009) or enzymes ( Fritig et al., 1998; Turrini et al., 2004) in defense of environmental stresses. For example, tryptophan dimers produced by plant roots can stimulate AM fungal growth under water stress ( Horii et al., 2009 ). Some volatile organic compounds released from plant roots act as critical signaling compounds that can suppress the growth of pathogens, such as Fusarium spp. ( Cruz et al., 2012 ).

How do prairie strips help the ecosystem?

Compared with other cropping systems, prairie strips can improve soil water infiltration, soil organic matter content, and nutrient retention with fewer management challenges in agroecosystems ( Poeplau and Don, 2015 ). While longer crop rotations can reduce soil disease levels and enhance financial impacts of some additional crops, such as small grains and forages, these require additional labor, equipment, and management practices. Therefore, prairie strip practices could be combined with other crop rotations to provide better ecosystem services for soil health ( Schulte et al., 2017 ). For example, perennial native grass species grown with other crops in rotation offer substantial diversification opportunities to help meet both economic and environmental goals ( Robertson et al., 2017; Werling et al., 2014 ), but the levels of benefits brought by prairie strips varies with crop species planted close to prairie strips and agronomic managements practiced in field ( Brandes et al., 2016 ). Overall, prairie strips are a relatively low-cost approach with many benefits for improving soil health, requiring minimal changes to existing farming operations.

How does intercropping improve soil health?

Intercropping practices can enhance soil health by reducing artificial chemical pollution ( Lemaire et al., 2014 ), inhibiting soil disease ( Vukicevich et al., 2016 ), increasing plant root function ( Bukovsky-Reyes et al., 2019 ), enhancing soil nutrient and spatial use efficiency ( Hinsinger et al., 2011) and promoting bio-functionalities of soil microorganisms ( Sun et al., 2019 ). For example, a study in a semi-arid area in Gansu, China, found that intercropping systems, including corn, wheat, and faba beans, had about 23%, 4%, and 11% higher root biomass and organic C and N contents in the top 20 cm soil layer than those species in rotation ( Cong et al., 2015 ). In Pernambuco, Brazil, intercropping cassava with pigeon pea and beans significantly reduced black root rot ( Scytalidium lignicola) in cassava by up to 50% compared with cassava in monoculture ( de Medeiros et al., 2019 ). In addition, the intercropping soil had higher organic C and other nutrients, microbial biomass, and enzyme activities, than the monoculture soil, which were correlated with a decline in disease severity ( de Medeiros et al., 2019 ).

Why is diversity important in agroecosystems?

The overall richness of crop species in agroecosystems could be the ultimate driver of soil health; thus, to optimize the benefits that crop diversification can bring to the system, the diversity of plant functional groups may be important for crop diversification management ( Milcu et al., 2013 ). Plant functional groups/types were initially used to classify plants according to their biological and physiological characteristics to develop a vegetation model for land-use studies ( Bonan et al., 2002 ). In agroecosystems, the most common functional crop mixtures consist of a mixture of any of the four main groups, namely C3 grasses (such as cotton), C4 grasses (such as maize), legumes which fix N from atmosphere, and non-leguminous forbs ( Vukicevich et al., 2016 ), as plants with different eco-functional types often grow well in community due to their different needs in the temporal and spatial niche and soil nutrient availabilities ( Roscher et al., 2013 ). Similarly, higher diversity of plant eco-functional groups creates heterogeneity of the favorable niches for different soil functional microbes; therefore, crop diversification management with more plant functional groups could enhance soil health and ecosystem services ( Vukicevich et al., 2016 ).

Why is crop diversification important?

Crop diversification is often described as the ‘planned diversity’ of cropping systems ( Matson et al., 1997 ). It is not only critical for optimizing crop production but also important for increasing soil health by balancing soil biodiversity, enhancing soil nutrient use efficiency, and reducing soil-borne pathogens ( Barbieri et al., 2019; Gurr et al., 2016 ). It is well accepted that optimized crop diversification has various benefits, not only to growers but also to the environment, as increasing crop diversity can enhance heterogeneity of soil chemical nutrients, soil physical structures, and functional microorganisms at different spatial scales, leading to improved soil health and crop yields ( Bardgett and van der Putten, 2014; Maron et al., 2011 ). However, this relationship can vary with species redundancy and host-specificity of some soil-borne pathogens ( Naeem, 1998; Zhu et al., 2000 ). For example, Bainard et al. (2017b) reported that increased crop diversity did not necessarily reduce soil-borne diseases; in particular, including more pulse crops in rotations significantly increased the pathogen index, which may be due to an increase in pulse-specific pathogens.

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The direct effect of conventional banana systems on productivity is shown in the following manuscripts:

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Agriculture must literally go back to its roots by rediscovering the importance of healthy soil, using natural sources of plant nutrition, and using mineral fertilizer wisely.

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