Soil in the News: Bonus Assignment Feed (2017W)

This is the Soil in the News bonus assignment pulled from the APBI 200 2017W wiki page.

Here is the soil in the new archive. Link to Bonus Assignments

UPDATE: Tension Crack Forms Along Site C Dam Haul Road

Thirty-three workers have been laid off, others have been reassigned work tasks following the development of a 400-meter tension crack along a service road on the north shore of the site C dam reservoir. This road is commonly used by heavy trucks to bring rocks and construction supplies to the site. The development of this crack has community members worried about the effects of a slope failure. Social protests over the construction of Site C have highlighted public concern about possible negative effects of dams on watershed dynamics and ecosystem health. There is a team of Geotechnical Engineers working to reconstruct this steep slope, working within a time frame and budget to keep construction on time for the expected opening.

Dams influence the transportation of fluvial sediments and parent materials by creating reservoirs of slow moving water perfect for depositing course and fine-grained particles. Weathering and erosion of soils and rocks by water is a natural process that redistributes nutrients and primary soil particles within many terrestrial ecosystems. British Columbia has many glacially fed rivers that provide an array of ecosystem services while enhancing the well-being of many Canadian families. Site C will be the 3rd dam on the Peace River.

In the face of climate change my generation will need to consider the trade-offs of hydroelectric and drinking dams on the well-being of human and ecosystem communities. Acknowledging the impacts of damming on the development of soils and the imperative ripple effects within the downstream communities, ecosystems, and landscapes.



Bringing Back the Mammoth to Save Humanity?

As climate continues to warm, soil microbes will become active and begin decomposing massive stores of organic carbon that had been previously frozen as permafrost. In Northern Siberia alone, this would release more CO2 and methane into the atmosphere than 2.5 times what is currently sequestered in all of Earth’s rainforests. In April 2017, The Atlantic published an article on Sergey Zimov’s idea to stop permafrost melt in Siberia: he wants to bring back the woolly mammoth. Siberia has a mostly subarctic climate today and is dominated by mosses and shrubs. These types of vegetation lead to water-saturated soils which inhibit decomposition and insulate the soils from intense winter temperatures. Siberia used to be an arid grassland steppe, and it was dominated by grassland species during the Pleistocene. Zimov believes that by reintroducing mammoths, he can effectively reintroduce grasslands. These herbivores would trample down mosses and shrubs and bring back grasses to the landscape. These grasslands would not only have a higher albedo than the modern mossy tundra, but they also wouldn’t protect the soil from the cold like moss and shrubs do. This was interesting to me because they suggest soil science might be the key to slowing permafrost melt. This issue takes almost all aspects of soil science (thermal properties, soils organisms, SOM, etc.) and relates them to complex relationships between soils, the ecosystems they support, and global climate. This also seems Jurassic Park-esque, especially since he calls his park “Pleistocene Park” and looks like a mad scientist.



Earthworm numbers dwindle, threatening soil health

Karin Jager calls earthworms the "unsung heroes of our world" because they provide many ecological services for soil. Earthworms affect soils' physical and chemical properties. They naturally till, fertilize and improve soil quality. They are able to replenish soils with plant nutrients, organic matter (humus), oxygen, create tunnels for plant roots and improve water absorption. However, there is a growing concern over the use of agricultural practices and the effects of climate change on earthworms' survival. Agriculture fields are severely acidified from manure use, habitats are destroyed from heavy machinery and there is metal contamination from fungicide use. Intensively farmed soils have fewer than 30 earthworms per square meter. On the other hand, organic farms that are rarely ploughed, have up to 450 worms per square meter. In addition, increased frequency of droughts has caused soils to become too dense with poor aeration and water retention. This imbalance in soil causes stress for the earthworms, which limit their population. The World-Wide Fund for Nature is encouraging politics and society to focus on sustainable agricultural practices to promote natural soil fertility and humus production. If we continue to degrade our soils and decrease earthworm populations, serious long-term problems can arise, such as global food shortages.



Scientists discover soil-dwelling bacteria may fight drug-resistant superbugs

The article says that some scientists have recently published a paper in the Nature Microbiology journal of a new antibiotic agent found in some bacteria in the soil. The agent, which the researchers have named malacidin, has been successful in killing some of the drug-resistant strains that we suffer from in the rat test subjects. What is also promising is that this drug does well in thwarting the efforts of bacteria to become resistant to it and may be able to do it as well as daptomycin which has no resistant bacteria to it yet. This is important since powerful antibiotics are losing their effectiveness due to the ability of bacteria to form resistant strains, thus requiring new antibiotics to be synthesized or found. The article then concludes that the scientists plan to continue finding new soil dwelling bacteria with antibiotic properties.

This article ties in with the soil organisms part, the soil chemical properties and soil formation in the APBI 200 course since they looked for this bacteria in soils with calcium, so they would need to know where to look. I chose this article for two reasons, one is that I am concerned with antibiotic resistance since it has the potential to outpace our ability to produce new ones, so this article helps to alleviate some of that. Lastly, this can be used as another argument to do conservation for our soils so that we preserve the biodiversity in the soils and potential helpful soil organisms.



Tillage and Erosion

Soil erosion, due to harmful farming practices, has led to serious levels of degradation. In John Greig’s article, “Soil erosion costs $3.1 billion in losses”, he discusses the substantial loss of crop production capacity due to outdated farming methods. In particular, vertical tillage is a majorly degrading practice. Conventional tilling uses soil movers, such as chisel plows and hoe drills, to mix the decomposed organic matter on the surface, from previous harvests. This, therefore, reduces residue cover on top of the soil. As a result, runoff commonly occurs, feeding into the issue of soil erosion. No-till farming is an alternative method that preserves soil health. However, due to consistency issues and other challenges associated with this method, farmers have been hesitant to switch over. Although many challenges arise from the no-till farming method, it is crucial, for the vitality of the future, to utilize a practice that will halt further soil degradation. By stopping tillage, soils can remain healthy and suitable for recurring seasons of farming. The residue on untilled soil acts as a barrier between weathering and the soil underneath. Because it consists of organic material from decaying organisms, it acts as an insulator from extreme temperatures and climates. In addition, it reduces runoff because the porous organic matter can retain water with quick infiltration, in turn minimizing surface erosion. Switching to no-till farming will save the nation billions of dollars, not to mention all the ecosystems that depend on soil as the absolute foundation.



Montecito Mudslides

A couple of months ago, a huge series of fires swept over hundreds of miles of California, causing damage to ecosystems and man-made structures alike. As a specific example, the Thomas fire burned much of the brush and vegetation around the small city of Montecito. This lack of vegetation led to soil much more vulnerable to erosion, and large depositional events, such as land/mudslides. This vulnerability let to the landslide in Montecito that caused twenty deaths, many injuries, and significant damage to properties, roads, and ecosystems. The lawsuit over the incident illustrates the importance of vegetation when it comes to the security of hillsides, due to their stabilizing effect on soil. Hopefully, this disastrous event will educate the public to avoid exposed soil in areas that could lead to potential landslides, by promoting vegetation which has countless benefits along with stabilizing soil.



Easing the soil's temperature

This article summarizes the importance of soil temperature to plant growth. Since most plants are sensitive to sudden changes in temperature, the ability of soil to withstand temperature changes is evidently significant. This ability is affected primarily by compaction and moisture. Compacted and dry soils lead to quick changes in temperature, while non-compacted and wet soils result in slower changes. This is because soil particles transfer temperatures faster when squished together, and water has high ability to buffer against temperature changes. Cover and biofuel crops can relieve soil compaction caused by farmers dragging heavy machinery over the soil. Additionally, Samuel Haruna, a researcher at Middle Tennessee State University, conducted an experiment to determine if biofuel and cover crops can also help soils protect themselves from varying temperatures. As a result, Haruna found that not only do those crops shield soil against extreme temperatures, but they also help the soil retain moisture. As soils are susceptible to temperature fluctuations due to climate change, crop productivity may be affected in the future if the issue is not addressed. Consequently, Haruna suggests the use of cover crops to buffer against extreme weather changes within the soil. This is important to me as it mentions how soil is affected by one of the most significant environmental issue currently at hand, as well as recommending possible solutions to solve this problem. This article relates to the topics of soil compaction, soil water content, water retention, and ability of soil to respond to surface temperature changes.



Cover Crops in Nitrogen’s Circle of Life

Some cover crops are used to capture nutrients instead of being eaten, and these nutrients would be released when the cover crops are decomposed. American researchers are trying to find the comparison between two most commonly planted cover crops ( Hairy vetch and cereal rye) about the most limiting nutrient - Nitrogen releasing efficiency, in order to match the specific need for cash crops. The result of the research is that hairy vetch released more nitrogen, and better efficiency compared to cereal rye.

The Choice of different kinds of cover crops should be based on different plants’ nitrogen needs. According to the article, “This information can help farmers estimate how much nitrogen they might expect to get from their cover crop and when it will be available.” By understanding the importance of creating a suitable environment for plant growth, I can learn more about the effect of soil nutrients and SOM in soil science. This topic has a close relationship with what APBI course recently taught about soil chemistry, soil organic matter. More specifically, the knowledge about C/N ratio, and its influence on plant growth.



UK farmers to be given first ever targets on soil health

Tuesday march 13th, The Guardian released an article that is reporting on a new bill that is going to be presented in the United kingdom’s parliament this year. The bill that they are wanting to pass is in regards to soil health. A study conducted in 2014 found that without any intervention the soil in the UK can only withstand approximately 100 more harvests due to soil depletion caused by human activity. As the fertility of the soil becomes a growing concern, the government is acknowledging that the health of soil is vital to sustaining life. The measures and regulations that will come out of this bill are still uncertain, however the goal is to restore the soil health in the UK by 2030.

This is important to me as soil health is extremely important for agriculture, which means that it is directly linked to the world’s food source. If soil health continues to decrease future generations will face an extreme global food shortage potentially leading to the extinction of the human race. This article relates to a large amount, if not all, of the topics that we are covering in apbi 200. However the topic of soil components, structure and soil management are all topics that have or will be covered in the course that are directly related to this bill.



Do you love platic bags at the grocery store? Soil animals and plants don't and you shouldn't either!

The key finding in this article is that microplastic has a toxic effect on living organisms in the soil fauna and eventually flora. Indeed, the researchers could show that microplastics disturb the fauna such as earthworms that might change their burrowing path because of the presence of plastic. They could also show that the plastic releases chemicals, such as bisphenol A which is a hormone modifier that impacts the way biological cells are working and might lead to a modified way of behaving for any animal. Moreover, microplastic can integrate cells and thus will imply a modification of the way the cells are expressing genes by ultimately modifying the brain chemistry. Why do we care? Mainly because we eat those microplastics by eating plants and fishes because one of the other findings in the article is that microplastic can be accumulated in fungi (which often are exchanging elements with plants). This is especially important for me because I realize that so many plastic bags are still given away (for such a low cost) in the groceries stores, and it upsets me to think that it might hurt animals, plants and human health, and I'd like to sensibilize people about this problem. This topic is related to soil organisms, soil chemistry, soil organic matter decomposition, soil degradation.



UK farmers to be given first ever targets on soil health

A new bill will be brought before parliament this year mandating, for the first time, measures and targets to preserve and improve the health of the UK’s soils, amid growing concern that we are sleepwalking into a crisis of soil fertility that could destroy our ability to feed ourselves. .. Poor soils also lead to problems with water supplies, and can affect air quality as fertilisers produce ammonia which reacts with other gases to form particles that harm the lungs. The article mentioned the problems such as soil erosion and degraded soil quality which is what we learned a lot in our class. We learned a lot of nutrients cycling in the soil fertility chapter and the Nitrogen is one of the essential elements that supporting the plants' growth. Ammonia is an organic form entering the soil by biological fixation that needed to be converted into NO3- or NH4+ by the process of mineralization for plants use. The nitrogen in soil will loss if the soil erosion occurs. This is important for me, since the population of the whole world has increased dramatically as well as the environmental problems. And soil sustains our life by proving a lot of ecosystem services such as food and nutrient cycling. If there is more fertile soil, people can live a healthier and better life which is the reason that why we do lots of research on soil and try to improve or ease the polluted soil. Soil sustains plants' and other soil fauna's life, but thinking deeper enough, we may realise that it is people that relying on the soil most.



The Guardian UK farmers to be given first ever targets on soil health

On March 13, 2018 The Guardian published an article titled “UK farmers to be given first ever targets on soil health.” It discusses a new agricultural bill brought before parliament this year mandating measures and targets to protect and restore UK’s soil health. It is an attempt to reverse soil loss and threats to fertility. In the UK, 3m tonnes of topsoil are lost in the each year and a 2014 study estimates that there are only 100 harvests remaining. Soil health has been overlooked government as it has been disregarded in environment policy. Farming Minister George Eustice vows to put soil “at the heart” of government’s strategy. This issue is topical for all people as soil is the supporting component that impacts food security, biodiversity, and the regulation of climate change, water and air quality. The article strongly relates to the soil fertility, nutrients, management sections in APBI 200. To investigate and message the degree of soil health, they can look at organic matter, soil structure, water retention, available nutrients, pH, and bulk density. The UK expresses its concern regarding soil degradation and erosion from wind and water. I believe that the UK has set an example for other governments to prioritize the protection of soil.



Residents of Shawnigan Lake, B.C., await decision on fate of contaminated soil

The permit which allowed landfill near Shawnigan Lake, B.C. to accept and store contaminated soil was revoked by the province last year, but tonnes of contaminated soil was left on the landfill without any decisions. The location of the landfill is close to the community, so people in the community are anxious about when the contaminated soil will be removed. Soil contamination is chemical pollution which is mostly caused by industrial activities and agricultural chemicals. Since the landfill sites near Shawnigan Lake, there is a high risk for contamination soil to cause secondary pollution of water in the lake due to water infiltration in the soil. Chemicals in contaminated soil may be toxic to organisms in Shawnigan Lake. Also, directly contact or inhale vapour from polluted soil is harmful to human body. Contamination soil has the negative effect on the ecosystem and human community. this news related to all soil water, component interaction and soil management topics in APBI 200. As a student in APBI, we can analyze the interaction between chemicals in the polluted soil and environment factors then come up some ideas about soil cleanup.



Soil Toxicity in Port Hope

This article was about homeowners that were worried for their children playing outside because of the high toxic levels of lead, and arsenic. This is a huge concern for the residences of Port Hope, the levels of lead were ten times the provincial limits and the arsenic levels were seven times the provincial’s limits. This is a huge health concern for the residence of the area, lead is a neurotoxin causing the blood and brain disorders and damage to the nervous system especially in children. Within soil science, in a toxic soil we know that for very acidic soils we can put lime on the soil to neutralize the soil. In this case the soil is contaminated, with lead and arsenic. One way to clean this mess up with to remove the topsoil all together and put it in a landfill this is very costly. Gardening organically can also help with the amount of lead in the soil. We know from soil science that adding compost to the soil can neutralize the metal in the soils. For instance, if you add phosphate to the soil it binds with the Lead and forms a crystalline structure in a form that is non-toxic. Phosphate immobilization doesn’t change the amount of lead in the soil but changes the chemical composition so it is no longer toxic. This is why it would be better for the people of Port Hope in this case to remove the topsoil all together and replace it.



Ground's not hot




Fixing soybean's need for nitrogen

Biological nitrogen fixation for soybeans requires using quite a bit of the limiting nutrient. Often, the bacteria living on the Soybean’s root nodules can’t fix enough N2 for the plant, and the use of fertilizers is required – costing money and potentially harming nearby ecosystems.

A recent study conducted by Mariangela Hungria, a researcher for Embrapa Soja Brazil (A Brazilian Agricultural research company), may have found a solution to this issue. The study, published in Agronomy Journal, indicates that is actually possible to grow additional root nodules in soybeans – allowing for the presence of additional Nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The researchers were able to accomplish this by coating the Soybean seeds with the fixing bacteria and continuing to spray them throughout the plant’s developmental stages. The yields in the soy fields tested upon increased by up to 27%.

This development could potentially lead to great improvements in agricultural sustainability. Relying less of Nitrogen fertilizers could both minimize the risk of runoff into water streams, as well as reduce the production of these fertilizers - a process that releases lots of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.

I found the findings of the article pretty relevant to the content of this course. It remains to be seen if a similar process could be replicated in other plants, but if so it’s possible that regulating Nitrogen levels in soils could become very different in the future.



Farming with crops, rocks to address global climate, food and soil security

The addition of basaltic rocks to agriculture soil can produce pest repellant and disease-resistant properties. It can also improve soil organic carbon content, maintain soil structure and reduce erosion. Basalt rocks added to soil can actively remove atmospheric CO2 and reduce the environmental effects due to GHGs. It is recorded that every ton of weathering basalt can remove about 0.3 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. However, different types of rock pairing must be used to control and supply the soil with appropriate nutrients. How it works: Firstly, silicate rocks such as basalt are crushed into tiny pieces to increase its surface area exposed to chemical reactions and spread on cropland. Due to chemical weathering (reactions with water), basalt rocks release cation and increase CEC. It also increases nutrient availability such as phosphorus in soil. The weathering of silicate soils into clay further increases SOC retention. In addition, the exploitation of basaltic reserves in Brazil exposes rocks that can be potentially used. The benefits include reducing usage of agricultural fertilizers and pesticides, lowering cost of food production and increasing profitability of farms. This article demonstrates an alternative to sustainable crop production. It is important because I care about the environment and would love to raise awareness about it. This topic relates to soil parent material and the effects of adding basalt rocks to croplands. The project requires more intensive research before being implemented as adding basalt rocks might affect soil organisms, cause changes in soil porosity and soil hydraulic conductivity.



pros of using Quizlet

The soil science e-textbook – SoilWeb 200 – was a useful tool throughout my learning in this course. One thing I really liked about the textbook was that it was effectively a concise, summarized version of what we had to learn in class; anytime I didn’t understand the content from lectures, I refered to this resource before I began googling information. I also really like the section quizzes; they’ll be quite useful in studying for the final. However, one thing I found problematic was that the textbook was very inconsistent with how much “extra” detail there was in each section. Some sections, I found that the textbook provided extra learning to go in addition to the lectures that helped broaden my knowledge and understanding, but wasn’t necessarily directly examinable material. An example of such a section was section 1.1; we don’t necessarily need to know the full list of every single primary and secondary mineral that’s listed in this e-textbook, but it’s still useful information to know. Other times, however, I felt that the e-textbook wasn’t detailed enough; an example of such a section was soil biology – instead of actually giving an even more comprehensive list of organisms then what was provided in lecture, or what kind of soil we might find them in, this section provided a more summary of the importance of soil organisms – which I’d more or less already heard. All in all, although I somewhat enjoy this format of information being conveyed, I would suggest more consistency: either have more comprehensive information that acts as an addition to what’s provided in lecture (such as the section on primary and secondary minerals), or have it be a summary (such as the section on soil organisms).

By: Phyllis Lesnikov

Soil Power! The Dirty Way to a Green Planet

As explained in the article, Earth possess five major pools of carbon. The atmosphere which is overloaded with carbon; the oceans which are turning acidic; the forests which are diminishing; and underground fossil fuel reserves which becoming empty. The last viable pool to store large quantities of carbon is the soil.

Scientists are documenting how the sequestration of carbon in soil can reduce climate change through extraction of carbon from the atmosphere and restore the health of degraded soils and increase agricultural yields. Further understanding of the soil’s role in increasing climate stability and agricultural productivity will push farmers to abandon conventional practices like tillage, excessive grazing, and blanket application of fertilizers and pesticides. New agricultural shift includes increased use in nutrient-rich manure or compost, reduced use of fertilizer and pesticides, and reduced tillage.

This article touches on various topics learned in APBI 200. An example is how carbon in soil and vegetation is related to the topic of C:N ratios and how carbon sequestration relates to nutrient cycles from the lectures. The increased use of manure and compost serves as organic matter and thus increases nutrient retention of soil and its quality.

This information is relevant to me since climate change is harming the beautiful world we live in, and we now have an opportunity to reduce the damage done and to increase food sustainability while we are at it. It also prompts me to not take the importance of soil for granted.



Crop Rotation, Grazing Rebuilds Soil

In this article, plant and soil scientist Eugenia M. Pena-Yewtukhiw sets out to answer the question of, how long does it take for a soil to regenerate after consecutive years of supporting crops, such as wheat and corn? Because this particular soil has been through excessive tillage and crop rotation, its nutrient supply was exhausted; its organic matter had been depleted, and due to tillage, the soil structure had been affected, making it more compact which exposed it to dehydration and erosion.

After planting legumes and grasses that didn’t require tillage, the soil had a break from constant disruption and the plant quality was noticeably changing for the better, as the soil became more porous to allow for better root penetration. Sheep were then placed on the field to incorporate manure into the soil, which would improve the soil’s organic matter. This 3-year period without disruptions, and replenished organic matter was able to provide the soil with essential nutrients, the ability to retain water, and enhanced soil organism presence.

This experiment is important in understanding how tillage and disruption negatively impacts the soil quality, and in turn, affects plants growth. As a natural resources conservation student, soil conservation is extremely important and relevant as our global population continues to increase, demanding for more agricultural products. This article is also relevant to APBI 200 as it touches on various topics, specifically soil organic matter, soil nutrients and physics, and soil organisms, and demonstrates how all these aspects of soil play together.



Digging for sewer line, two men buried under mound of soil

the article talks about two men who died after being buried under a mound of soil. The men had been trying to deepen the hole in order to shift a sewer line. This article does not state any scientific facts, but this very reason is why I find it interesting. As an APBI 200 student, I am able to assume the possible traits of the soil that would have allowed for the situation to occur. The soil was possibly well drained, had less clay and silt, causing low water retention to hold to soil together. From the picture in the article, we can also see that there was very little vegetation around the soil, possibly meaning that there were no roots to hold the soil in place. The concerning part about the article is that it states that this situation has occurred before where someone else had lost their life to a similar soil situation. The lack of scientific information in the articles tells me that the society may not be aware of their soil properties, putting them at a risk of a situation like this to occur again.



To restore our soils, feed the microbes

Over the past century, much of the soil quality has declined as a result of plowing, over-tilling and the addition of too much fertilizer. This has led to increased erosion on agricultural fields and loss of soil organic matter. With such losses, farms are becoming increasingly reliant on fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Although research on adding organic material back to the soils to restore them is an important strategy, Wallenstein believes that there should be a greater emphasis on research that aims to enhance the microbes that are responsible for soil formation. By supporting and enhancing soil microbiomes that efficiently convert plant residues into soil organic matter, the proportion of plant carbon that is transformed into soil organic matter can be maximized. Healthy soils should contain an active and balanced microbiome which prevents disease, effectively cycles nutrients, and reduces plant stress. Furthermore, microbes form complex networks that requires them to work together to complete biochemical processes such as nitrogen fixation. Wallenstein believes this is important because without a healthy microbial community, opportunistic pests can invade and nutrients are no longer recycled. This causes farmers to rely more on chemicals to replace these biological soil functions.

This article is important to me as soil quality is essential for agriculture as it supports much of the world’s food production. If further research is not done to promote healthy microbial communities, soil health may continue to decline potentially resulting in food shortages in future generations. Therefore, the benefits and the biological soil functions of microbial communities must be taken into account during soil management.



Scientists Peek Inside The 'Black Box' Of Soil Microbes To Learn Their Secrets

This article focuses on the microorganisms that live in the soil, and play a vital role in producing food and creating fertile soils. According to the article, most of these microorganisms have not been identified by scientists, and their functions in the soil remain anonymous. This is partly due to the difficulties encountered when trying to study these microbes, since many only exist in the soil. This community of soil microbes has come to be known as a "black box", since it is difficult to see what's inside. However, the article is optimistic, and suggests work is being done to open the box by extracting DNA from the soil microbes in soil samples. The research has found that although there are millions of types of soil microorganisms, there is a smaller group that seem to be most common in many different types of soils. Looking into the future, the next step is characterizing what they do and how they can respond to climate change, then potentially using these microbes from the soil for new discoveries, such as antibiotics. This relates to the topic of soil biology, specifically soil organisms, studied in APBI 200. As we have learned, soil organisms are important in the decomposition of organic material and the mixing and forming soil aggregates, as well as converting nutrients into useable forms for plants. All of these functions are vital for soil health and fertility. This is important to me for many reasons, the first being I consume food. Soil microorganisms are essential for sustainable agricultural practices and the production of healthy and nutrient rich food, therefore soil microorganisms should be important to everyone. Secondly, I plan to work in the field of sustainable agriculture, therefore I should have an understanding of the soil microbes that are playing a role in producing food, and giving them the recognition they deserve.



Imagine sitting in your living room, and suddenly, your house starts to tremble and move towards a steep bank. What could it be? Landslides pose direct threats to

                   humans, blocking roadways, causing damage to infrastructure, and even death. Of Importance to soil scientists are what properties and process in our soils are 
                   causing this phenomenon.
                   On March 30th, 2018, the District of Summerland, a small town located in the Okanogan area of British Columbia declared a local state of emergency due to a 10- 
                   meter-wide landslide affecting two homes (Turcato, 2018). One home located at the top of a bank was sliding towards a home at the bottom of the bank, along with 
                   trees and wood debris (Turcato, 2018). The homes have been evacuated, and no one was hurt in the slide (Turcato, 2018).
                   What makes this case interesting and important to me is that the area affected by the slide had many trees, which often helps stabilize soils and increase its sheer 
                   strength and prevent landslides from happening. Not the case with this slide. A likely cause was the soil becoming saturated, and reaching its maximum retentive 
                   capacity, causing the water to act as a lubricant for the soil aggregates. 
                   This is directly relevant to soil physical, and chemical properties, within the field of soil science, and acts as a great example of how different factors act on the soil 
                   and comes to show that soils are dynamic.



Imagine sitting in your living room, and suddenly, your house starts to tremble and move towards a steep bank. What could it be? Landslides pose direct threats to humans, blocking roadways, causing damage to infrastructure, and even death. Of Importance to soil scientists are what properties and process in our soils are causing this phenomenon. On March 30th, 2018, the District of Summerland, a small town located in the Okanogan area of British Columbia declared a local state of emergency due to a 10-meter-wide landslide affecting two homes (Turcato, 2018). One home located at the top of a bank was sliding towards a home at the bottom of the bank, along with trees and wood debris (Turcato, 2018). The homes have been evacuated, and no one was hurt in the slide (Turcato, 2018). What makes this case interesting and important to me is that the area affected by the slide had many trees, which often helps stabilize soils and increase its sheer strength and prevent landslides from happening. Not the case with this slide. A likely cause was the soil becoming saturated, and reaching its maximum retentive capacity, causing the water to act as a lubricant for the soil aggregates. This is directly relevant to soil physical, and chemical properties, within the field of soil science, and acts as a great example of how different factors act on the soil and comes to show that soils are dynamic.



Soil is a carbon sink

The news report I chose examines how important soil is for reversing the effects of climate change. When we think of ways to prevent climate change we typically ignore the soil beneath our feet. The earth has 5 major carbon sinks. The atmosphere; which is overloaded, the ocean; which is becoming acidic by the day; the forests; which are diminishing, and the underground fossil fuel reserves; which are being depleted (Leslie, 2017). The only sink we have left is soil! According to scientists, soil is extracting carbon from the atmosphere! Paying more attention to soil and how it sustains climate changes will lead to the abandonment of “conventional practices like tillage, crop residue removal, mono-cropping, excessive grazing and blanket use of chemical fertilizer and pesticide” (Leslie, 2017). When we realize how much soil positively contributes to climate change we will have more respect for it and try our bests to keep it protected. I think this is a very important news article because it teaches us how pointing fingers to what is causing climate change, cannot change anything. Instead, we need to make sure that whatever is helping to reserve the effects of climate change, is being protected. This relates to APBI 200 because it talks all about the importance of soil, which is exactly what we have been learning about all semester!



Balanced nutrients help soil microbes

There are 2 studies in this article
The first is about how soil microbes contribute to the organic cropping system and the conventional cropping system. After 20 years of organic and conventional practices, it was found out that the unaltered conventional system had more C and N in the soil. Microbes were added to each system of soil. The amount of C and N in the conventional system were relatively constant. The organic system, however, had been altered.
This is a cyclical problem. The relatively low amount of C & N in the soil is unable to sustain soil biology. Soil microbes, that are essential in the mineralization process, are unable to convert the C & N into inorganic form for plants to flourish. The population of soil microbes dwindles making the soil less fertile.
The second study is about the amount of C affecting plant growth. Synthetic glucose was added to both the organic and conventional systems. The results showed that the organic system was severely affected.
Adding glucose into the soil increases the C content only but not the N content. The C/N ratio is increased. Soil biology that feeds on the addition C in the soil requires more N for optimal survival. Unlike the conventional system with excess N in its soil for soil microbes to access, the soil organism in the organic system with deficient N in the soil taps on plants for their source of N, and as a result competes for N with plants, impairing plant growth.



Helping Chinese farmers tackle erosion, increase profits

In a four-year experiment, Bozhi Wu and his research team examined the intercropping system on hilly land in China. Intercropping is a farming technique that is helpful to reduce erosion. The team found that farmers can get maximum economic benefits from growing chili peppers and corn, because intercropping can provide an additional soil cover to reduce erosion and plants can absorb extra water and nutrients, prevent nutrients runoff. Besides, the increase of biodiversity helps to control pests and diseases. Even in a drought year, the intercropping of corn with chili can bring more economic benefits than growing single crop. This news is important because it can help people to deal with soil erosion. The soil erosion is a topic we learned from APBIO200. I read from the textbook that "the steep slopes generally encourage rapid soil loss by erosion". The study of intercropping is helpful to solve this problem.



Soil in the News for Justin Kim

The soil science e-textbook – SoilWeb 200 – was a useful tool throughout my learning in this course. One thing I really liked about the textbook was that it was effectively a concise, summarized version of what we had to learn in class; anytime I didn’t understand the content from lectures, I refered to this resource before I began googling information. I also really like the section quizzes; they’ll be quite useful in studying for the final. However, one thing I found problematic was that the textbook was very inconsistent with how much “extra” detail there was in each section. Some sections, I found that the textbook provided extra learning to go in addition to the lectures that helped broaden my knowledge and understanding, but wasn’t necessarily directly examinable material. An example of such a section was section 1.1; we don’t necessarily need to know the full list of every single primary and secondary mineral that’s listed in this e-textbook, but it’s still useful information to know. Other times, however, I felt that the e-textbook wasn’t detailed enough; an example of such a section was soil biology – instead of actually giving an even more comprehensive list of organisms then what was provided in lecture, or what kind of soil we might find them in, this section provided a more summary of the importance of soil organisms – which I’d more or less already heard. All in all, although I somewhat enjoy this format of information being conveyed, I would suggest more consistency: either have more comprehensive information that acts as an addition to what’s provided in lecture (such as the section on primary and secondary minerals), or have it be a summary (such as the section on soil organisms).

By: Phyllis Lesnikov

Why meat eaters should think much more about soil

Why meat eaters should step in first to preserve the soil

The continued demand to food and productive land increase is causing problems in Sudan and Chad. However, it is believed that meat eaters, who currently considered to not take care of the soil, must be the ones taking the actions to fight for the soil preservations. The reason being is that the meat they eat is that from the animals that fed on grasses grew up in a fertile soil. Imagine if there were no grasses in Rwanda’s Nyagatare District. Would you encounter cows that many Rwandans slaughter during the feasts and other social events? The answer will always be no. But, who to look after the growth of these grasses? It’s definitely up to meat eaters even though they seem to not get into actions. Few who developed the idea to step in to help the preservation of the soil are heavy-tilling and applying heavy chemicals to help them yield a lot at the time, but they don’t look at what next after those applications. Heavy tilling and applying heavy machinery reduce the pores size and thus infiltration gets low which in turn means that in the coming years they will be no grasses growing due to lack of saturation and aerobic conditions. Also, this diminishes fertility and can lead to abandonment of land and ultimately desertification. Industrial agriculture is good at feeding populations, but it is not sustainable. It’s like an extractive industry, said Louise Baker, external relations head of the UN body. She said the fact that a third of land is now degraded should prompt more urgent action to address the problem. Me sitting in APBI 200 class made me wonder if Sudanese get this clearly. Sudan is known for digging deeper to over harvesting for a while, but they have started to encounter the worst because now they are facing desertification which is enlarging from Chad. “It’s quite a scary number when you consider rates of population growth, but this is not the end of the line. If governments make smart choices the situation can improve,” Baker said, noting the positive progress made by countries like Ethiopia, which has rehabilitated 7m hectares (17m acres). In conclusion, it is better that we look for the means to harvest more but also considering options that will also make us harvest again like Ethiopia is now doing.

Source: (Watts, 2017)



Earthworms Reproduce in Siumulated Mars Soil - a First

This article was the first article that has caught my eyes. It is about how earthworms could help humans grow crops in Mars. It has been found that soils in Mars are sterile and full of toxic compounds, which makes it hard for humans to grow healthy crops. A biologist, Wieger Wamelink, think that earthworms are the solution to modify the planet’s dirt. Worms could play a role by taking spent parts of the plant, like the stems and leaves, and breaking them down into nutrients that could be used later. Moreover, to dealing with this dead organic matter, earthworms create channels in the dirt that allow water to penetrate the plants’ roots more evenly. This article can be related to me because I have been interested in Mars. I think that Mars is our second home and that I have to know more about, but this is the first time to know what is happening with the soil in this planet. Since I have learned about soils, it was easy for me to understand what this article was saying. Therefore, this article can be related to our organic matter topic and also we did a lab where we looked close into forest floor and our group found an earthworm, which helped us to figure out the soil fauna size for forest floor classification.



'Mild winter means chafer beetle is back with a vengeance'

The article details the return of a particularly nasty soil pest; the European chafer beetle, to Vancouver. The cause of this return appears to be a mild, nearly frost-less winter. The beetle larvae are a favoured source of food for skunks, raccoons, and crows. These neighborhood scavengers will scratch and dig up huge sections of grass and several inches of soil beneath in order to gain access to the larvae, sometimes destroying entire lawns in the process. This soil macro-organism is an invasive species and throws off the balance of local soil ecosystems directly by consuming all manner of vegetative roots, therefore disrupting the Nitrogen cycling process. The beetle larvae also cause an indirect disruption to soil ecosystems by way of the ground shredding that the larvae’s consumers do to access them. Furthermore, people whose lawns are infested with the chafer beetle may opt to get rid of them with pesticides, which will almost certainly negatively affect soil health by changing its pH and killing healthy soil organisms. The article urges citizens to use natural predators of the beetle, nematodes, instead of pesticides. This issue is pertinent to us as citizens of Vancouver, especially as people with a particular interest in soil and its health. With even warmer winter temperatures almost guaranteed in coming years, we can expect this to be a recurring problem, and one we must tackle responsibly.



'Send in the drones' to protect soil

In order to combat soil run-off, the government will deploy squadrons of drones to locate and penalize bad farming taking place. This proposal originated from the Angling Trust, WWF and the Rivers Trust - with support from the RSPB. Their preliminary briefing has been seen by the Environment Secretary Michael Gove. It has been calculated that if an investment was made in stopping soil loss, said investment would pay back many times over. A trial drone surveillance scheme has taken place in Herefordshire and is said to have been very successful. This focuses on maize, as well as potato, as these exhaust soil and increase the chances of it being washed away. Protecting our soils has multiple benefits, including a reduction in the need for dredging, flood reduction, more protection against drought by recharging aquifers, increases wildlife, amongst many others. This is important to me because it is possible that it will be a great way to combat soil run-off and better our soils’ future. It relates to almost all topics covered in APBI200, as it determines our soil’s overall health. The most important topics discussed would probably be aeration, porosity, soil run-off, amongst others.



Send in the Drones to Protect the Soil

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency started using drones to view if farms are degrading their soils when farming. These drones are an important advancement allowing for us to see on a greater scale if farms are allowing soil and large amounts of fertilizer to run off into water ecosystems, damaging these fragile habitats. This issue of unsustainable use of soil relates to APBI 200, because some of the issues that were discussed in the article are problems such as bad topography choices that farms pick, such as farming on steep slopes, as well as talking about compaction issues in soil due to livestock; which we learned can be detrimental to soil’s water retention and absorption abilities. This problem of runoff, and the need to protect our water ecosystems is so important and valuable to society, because who doesn’t want to be able to see fish in our rivers in the future and not have eutrophication caused by fertilizer ruining our water sheds when it is preventable?



Forest and Salmon

Usually, when the two words “Salmon” and “Forest “appear together, it is hard to build any connection between them. However, the forest of Pacific Northwest river “eat ”salmon as dinner. Every November, tons of salmons with spawns migrate from ocean to Pacific Northwest river to reproduce. In the meantime, hundreds of hungry bears wait at sides of river and harvest those salmon. To avoid competition, the bears drag salmons into the forest, eat brains and leave the rest part. Those dead bodies are partly eaten by animals in the forest, but most of them will be decomposed and absorbed by forest soil, which eventually creates soil enrich of nutrient(N). As we learned form the lectures, high nutrient helps plans grow. But in this case, those nutrients support the entire forest system. Usually, plants take up N from soil and eaten by animals, then those animals die and decomposed, so that N goes back into the soil. The addition of salmon acts like a fertilizer. They are inputs of N but they do not consume N in this area. As the result, the forest owns the largest biomass/area on the earth (mainly trees) and supports numbers of big carnivores.



Decontaminating Montreal Soil

This article is on Saskatchewan farmers getting better access to provincial soil surveys via an online format. This will allow farmers easy access to soil surveys with digital satellite images to provide more accurate and accessible data to help understand current conditions in the landscape including soil texture and salinity and how it relates to the agricultural ability of the area. Additionally work is being done to add the ability for people to upload local data collected on their own fields to assist in providing the best assessment of the area. The soil data collection methods are also hoping to improve to the highest technological enhancements possible to provide even better survey results.

This article is important to me as Saskatchewan is a major agriculture producer for Canada. Allowing the farmers to gain easier access to information on the soil conditions, will allow for the agriculture to be grown in better areas with greater results. This can see a decrease in contaminated foods and decrease in diseases caused from food contamination, as well as see an increase in Canadian grown produce enter grocery stores.

This article relates to the APBI 200 course in general terms as the information being shared are about the various soil factors discussed. Additionally, it relates to soil testing techniques learned and practiced in lab, as the article states that there is hope to improve soil mapping techniques to improve data collected during soil testing.



California mudslides: Death toll rises to 20, 4 still missing

On January 9, 2018, a devastating mudslide buried many people of the Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. Recorded by Faith Karimi, Steve Almasy and Dakin Andone for CNN News, their January 15th article California mudslides: Death toll rises to 20, 4 still missing discusses soil structure, and how poor qualities thereof, such as lack of vegetation and breaching of carrying capacity, caused this disaster and lead to extreme tragedies. Just before this occurrance, a fire swept through this region destroying most, if not, all of its vegetation. Without plants and their roots to help give the soil structure, it became unconsolidated and easily erodible. Then, when the storm that caused the mudslide hit, its intense rains flooded the soil, surpassing its carrying capacity and furthering the soil’s decrease in stability. All of these factors added up to crate a very deadly mudslide, taking the lives of 20+ civilians and burying numerous buildings. This is important to me because soil is the foundation of life and if our foundation cannot support us, then we cannot build our lives.



Tests Show Nyamira Soils too Acidic for Farming

In Kenya, the soils in Nyamira have high acidic levels which is not a right fit for farming. It was found that the pH levels are quite low, and the ranges are between 5- 3.5. The use of acidic nitrogen fertilizers with intensive farming are responsible for this high acidity level. Peris Mong’are, an agriculture executive, states that intensive farming with the nitrogen fertilisers resulted in soil acidification. To solve this issue, experts created a fertiliser blend specifically made for Nyamira county and the maize crop. The fertilizer they created has macro and micro nutrients. Lime also made a big contribution to lowering the soil acidity as it corrects soil acidity and supplies essential plant nutrients. It is noted that is it important to invest in farming for one to get high yields. This article relates to us as we need to keep in mind how important soil is for food and how it affects other countries. Without healthy soil, there would not be enough yield, which affects the people and the economy. This also relates to soil management and practices in that farmers should have knowledge on the right way to maintain and sustain the soil.



Is Soil our Secret Weapon Against Climate Change?

This article by Marco Marzano de Marinis, published in the Huffington Post, Nov 11, 2017, discusses the introduction of a policy initiative introduced by the Government of France called 4 per 1000. The initiative was introduced with the intention of promoting the storage of organic carbon in the soil in order to reduce the CO2 emissions that are responsible for our Climate Change. The concept is based on the idea that soil can store up to 1,000 kg of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide per hectare of land, by means of trapping it into the organic matter in the soil. The earth soil contains 2 to 3 times more carbon than the atmosphere. The idea is to increase this storage of carbon by 0.4% a year, or 4 parts per 1000, in the top 30 or 40 cm of the soil, can halt the increase of Co2 in the atmosphere. This will also move us towards a more sustainable agricultural system, and an increase in food security. This article, however was written by a person that is not a soil scientist, or an agrarian, or an environmental scientist, but by my guess, by an economist, because of the strong terminology used: increase production, efficiency, strengthening the economy, and the best, increase food security. Many would argue, including the World Health Organization and the UN, that food insecurity is a matter of distribution, no matter how much food is produced worldwide. This article relates to APBI200 sections of organic matter, carbon cycle, decomposition, soil biology. It is important to me because I am working on a project that looks into the impacts of rotating cover crops and forage in soil health, and in turn provide biomass for wildlife.



Soil and Climate Change

The article talks about the power of soil to store carbon from the air and how it could be an important asset against global warming. It suggests that green spaces, like backyards, placed next to developed areas benefit cities as they might act as a buffer against negative effects that impervious surfaces have on the environment. This information is important to me because this term I discovered I enjoy working with soil and I am interested in urban planning. This article put together both of my interests. The role soil plays in the environment and its importance in climate change can be related to the Carbon cycle section of this course. Realizing that more people around the world are also interested in the same topics that I am is enlightening. I want to apply the knowledge I am acquiring, and urban agriculture seems like a potential path for me. However, founding is essential to develop projects. Founding for soil research can be increased by scientist around the world who are measuring the positive impact of soil on global warming. In conclusion, learning about soil outside the classroom and its potential positive impact in climate change, made me more interested in soil and made me think about possible career paths.



Because of land degradation due to unsustainable agricultural practices and farmers’ extensive conversion of forest and wetlands in pasture, about 24 billion tonnes of soil is lost every year. This alarming environmental problem is affecting more than 3.2 billion people. Land degradation costs over 10% of the annual global GDP and it increases the risks of flooding, landslides, Ebola, Marburg virus, and other diseases. It is predicted that, without a fast and corrective action, the situation will only get worse and by 2050, up to 700 million people living in the most effected areas such as southern Iraq, Afghanistan, sub-Saharan Africa, and southern Asia will be forced to migrate somewhere else. Global government are already behind with their neutral land degradation commitment of the 2030. Remedial actions such as a sustainable agricultural production, reduce of waste and stopping the clearing of more land for grazing purposes need to be taken immediately if we want to avoid a global future disaster.



Because of land degradation due to unsustainable agricultural practices and farmers’ extensive conversion of forest and wetlands in pasture, about 24 billion tonnes of soil is lost every year. This alarming environmental problem is affecting more than 3.2 billion people. Land degradation costs over 10% of the annual global GDP and it increases the risks of flooding, landslides, Ebola, Marburg virus, and other diseases. It is predicted that, without a fast and corrective action, the situation will only get worse and by 2050, up to 700 million people living in the most effected areas such as southern Iraq, Afghanistan, sub-Saharan Africa, and southern Asia will be forced to migrate somewhere else. Global government are already behind with their neutral land degradation commitment of the 2030. Remedial actions such as a sustainable agricultural production, reduce of waste and stopping the clearing of more land for grazing purposes need to be taken immediately if we want to avoid a global future disaster.



Be vegan!

This article explains how the meat industry is responsible for deforestation and land degradation. This is because the meat industry relies on crops like soy to feed the billions of animals that will end up in slaughter. In fact, “about three quarters of the world’s soy is used for animal feed” (Chiorando). By growing all of this soy, the land is being deforested so the soil is being eroded. The meat industry is responsible for about 85% of soil erosion (peta) and the livestock uses a third of the global surface whether it be for overgrazing, which causes compaction of soil, or for factory farms, or for crops. The point is, one of the many costs of eating meat is soil erosion, and as we’ve learned, soil takes hundreds of years to form; it is precious! This article is very important because it connects the meat industry to deforestation which is connected to soil erosion! I chose this article because I believe the solution to many problems, including environmental problems is to go vegan, which means to avoid animal products by eating plants instead! Going vegan is so empowering, and it can help our soil immensely! Let us be a voice for soil by choosing to eat foods that will not cause harm to the soil. By being vegan, our actions tell the soil, “I care about you.”



UK Farmers to be Given First ever Targets on Soil Health

This article follows recent UK’s parliamentary actions towards soil advocacy. An agricultural bill will be presented this year that will for the first time address the risks of soil degradation by anthropogenic forces, and seek to offset the world’s oncoming “crisis of soil fertility.” Such action comes amidst UN claims that only an estimated 60 harvests will be viable in the future with current soil use practices on a worldwide scale. The push for this bill coincides with the UK’s “25-year environmental plant,” and strives to reverse current soil degradation practices with the aim of “restoring soil health across the country by 2030.” Supported by important figures such as Environmental secretary, Michael Gove, Farming minister, George Eustice, as well as the Sustainable Soils Alliance, this bill will hopefully be a harbinger for more mindfully sustainable agricultural practices, as well as sustainable goals in the political sphere. Rebecca Pow, the parliamentary private secretary to environment ministers said in relation to the bill, that parliament has “turned the corner on getting soil on the political agenda,” a feat which will lead to much greater government involvement in the agricultural industry and aims to protect rather than exploit the environment and its natural resources. Such involvement will hopefully incentivize farmers to engage in efficient means of soil maintenance, such as crop rotation (which the article mentions) and proper fertilizer use and plowing practices. If these practices are utilized correctly, they could increase the biodiversity of agricultural soil, which could increase agricultural productivity and lessen biochemical hazards to public health. This looks like a win-win all around.



Third of Earth's soil is acutely degraded due to agriculture Fertile soil is being lost at rate of 24bn tonnes a year through intensive farming as demand for food increases, says UN-backed study

The planet is losing its valuable life-giving topsoil at a rate of 24bn tonnes a year, according to a new United Nations study. The reasons for this decline are due to the extreme intensification of land use in the past 20 years. While agricultural production has increased tremendously during that time, it occurred at the expense of long-term sustainability. The use of heavy tillage and mismanagement are some of the consequences of this intensification. Some places in the world are worst off than others like sub-Sahara Africa where the impacts of intensification are exacerbated by desertification and climate change. As a farmer, this information is of uttermost importance to me. It reminds me to thrive to manage the land with a 7-generation approach, a philosophy by which 7 future generations and their use of the land are considered with every decision. It is our responsibility as stewards of any piece of land to leave it better than when we found it. Fortunately, it is possible and not so difficult with the necessary care. This article is also relevant to me because I lived in Senegal for a year where I worked on a soil mapping project for the local government. Loss of arable to land to the encroachment of the desert and salination from mangrove come to amplify the effects of intense monocropping of peanuts everywhere. Farms are pure sand mixed my animal manure in Senegal. As we’ve learned in this course, sand has low cation exchange and no aggregate stability. It is extremely hard to have a thriving food system there even in the best of situation.



Third of Earth's soil is acutely degraded due to agriculture Fertile soil is being lost at rate of 24bn tonnes a year through intensive farming as demand for food increases, says UN-backed study

The planet is losing its valuable life-giving topsoil at a rate of 24bn tonnes a year, according to a new United Nations study. The reasons for this decline are due to the extreme intensification of land use in the past 20 years. While agricultural production has increased tremendously during that time, it occurred at the expense of long-term sustainability. The use of heavy tillage and mismanagement are some of the consequences of this intensification. Some places in the world are worst off than others like sub-Sahara Africa where the impacts of intensification are exacerbated by desertification and climate change. As a farmer, this information is of uttermost importance to me. It reminds me to thrive to manage the land with a 7-generation approach, a philosophy by which 7 future generations and their use of the land are considered with every decision. It is our responsibility as stewards of any piece of land to leave it better than when we found it. Fortunately, it is possible and not so difficult with the necessary care. This article is also relevant to me because I lived in Senegal for a year where I worked on a soil mapping project for the local government. Loss of arable to land to the encroachment of the desert and salination from mangrove come to amplify the effects of intense monocropping of peanuts everywhere. Farms are pure sand mixed my animal manure in Senegal. As we’ve learned in this course, sand has low cation exchange and no aggregate stability. It is extremely hard to have a thriving food system there even in the best of situation.



The Effects of Runoff in Urban Environments

In essence, this article explains the effects, positive and negative, that care caused by soils in urban environments. It explains the habits of rain when it falls to earth, being either infiltration, or runoff. It refers to the soils as a filter, in that when it allows water to infiltrate down, it is actively filtering out nutrients which are then made available for plants. It notes an issue that come along with the urban environment is the expanse of the impermeable surfaces, where this water just runs off into local bodies of water which can cause potential contamination. This is essentially the main issue being addressed in the article, and it goes on to further address the issue of impermeable anthropogenic surfaces in cities, as well as what we can do about it.

This article is relatable to me, as I study Urban Forestry and hope to solve issues such as this in my future work. It relates to APBI 200, as we learnt about urban soils and the challenges that they face in city environs. This is an important issue for everyone to know about, especially considering the rapid growth of cities now, and the projected urbanization in the future.



Land degradation threatens human wellbeing, major report warns

Jonathan Watts pointed out that land degradation threatens human health and causes many social problems, such as increasing the risk of migration. So far, more than 3 billion 200 million people have been affected by land degradation. This has become one of the biggest environmental problems in the world. Robert Scholes from IPBES says “As the land base decreases and populations rise, this problem will get greater and harder to solve.”

Just last year, scientists warned that they could lose at least 240 billion tons of fertile soil each year, mostly because of unsustainable agricultural practices. With the loss of soil, more problems are triggered, such as vegetation loss, grassland conversion, wetland drainage, urban pollution and so on.

I think land degradation is a very serious problem that deserves our attention. Land is the source of human economy, food and health, so how to carry out sustainable agricultural practice is the problem that people should solve now. The article relate to the Soil Physics, Soil Chemistry and Soil Biology.



UK farmers to be given first ever targets on soil health



Healthy farming practices

This article talks about how unprofessional farming practices is causing degradation. This can furthermore led to loosing crop production capacity over time. One of these bad practices is the vertical tillage method. Which can cause a decrease in the amount of residues on the top layer of the soil. This loss of residues can end up to soil erosion issues, since it causes run off. However, there is an alternative method which is called no till farming but farmers refuse to use it since it brings the problems of consistency and some other problem. This can be very helpful since the residues act like a layer of barrier between the soil layer and the weathering. Thus it basically prevents the soil form the extreme effects of weathering. It also helps decreasing runoff by increasing the are of water infiltration. Therefore, it can be (the no till farming) very helpful for a healthy farming practices in the future.



Healthy farming practices

This article talks about how unprofessional farming practices is causing degradation. This can furthermore led to loosing crop production capacity over time. One of these bad practices is the vertical tillage method. Which can cause a decrease in the amount of residues on the top layer of the soil. This loss of residues can end up to soil erosion issues, since it causes run off. However, there is an alternative method which is called no till farming but farmers refuse to use it since it brings the problems of consistency and some other problem. This can be very helpful since the residues act like a layer of barrier between the soil layer and the weathering. Thus it basically prevents the soil form the extreme effects of weathering. It also helps decreasing runoff by increasing the are of water infiltration. Therefore, it can be (the no till farming) very helpful for a healthy farming practices in the future.



Removing nitrate for healthier ecosystems

Nitrogen is a really important nutrient in the soil, which are taken up by plants in large amounts. However, excess nitrogen can be a problem for farmers and land managers. The nitrogen, usually in the form of nitrate , can cause eutrophication of water body, and finally lead to the death of fish and the whole region. Therefore, the researches have identified nitrate removal hotspots in landscape and confirm this idea through the field trip about four streams in northwestern North Carolina. Welsh suggests that if nitrate removal is the goal of stream restoration, it is vital for us to conserve existing buffering zones and reconnect streams to buffering zones. The researches also used simple models to understand the factors that promote the nitrate removal. According to the research, fine textures, organic matter, and dissolved carbon content were keys to remove nitrate in streams. The nitrate removal management is important to me , because there are large amounts of rivers in my hometown are facing the problem of eutrophication due to the excessive nitrate in water. Therefore, I can understand more about the treatment method for nitrate. This topic has a close relationship with the soil chemistry, nitrogen nutrient cycling and soil organic matter which we taught in APBI courses.

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Soil Power! The Dirty Way to a Green Planet (Akshay Russell 60398161)

The article discusses the benefits of using compost and manure over manufactured fertilizer. The benefits include it being cheaper for farmers than manufactured fertilizer. In addition, soil is one the five of the world’s natural carbon sinks – the others being the air, the ocean, the forest and fossil fuels buried in the ground. It is estimated that worldwide soil can sequester carbon at a rate of 0.9-2.6 gigatons per year. Putting carbon back in the soil has many benefits, including mitigating climate change and improving food security, water quality and air quality, according to Rattan Lal of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at Ohio State. The techniques farmers use to put carbon back in the soil include choosing manure or compost over manufactured fertilizer, not tilling the soil, and planting cover crops in the off-season to prevent erosion, as well as for capturing carbon and nitrogen from the atmosphere.

The article touches on some initiatives to revert to the old ways of fertilizing with manure and compost instead of manufactured fertilizers. There is the Martin Carbon Project in Marin California. A study there showed that a one-time addition of compost caused an increase in plant productivity and the soil removed carbon from the atmosphere at a rate of 1.5 metric tons per acre annually. Another initiative is led by Willie Durham, a soil health specialist who now teaches regenerative agriculture to new farmers in Texas and Oklahoma.



Soil cannot halt climate change (Charles Esplana 56299670)

Scientists from Rothamsted Research collected data from 16 experiments on three different soil types, and the results showed that the use of crops to lock atmospheric carbon into soil in efforts to offset fossil fuel emissions, is a problematic and ultimately impractical solution to halt climate change. The aim of an initiative, launched in 2015, was to increase soil carbon content by four parts per 1000 per year, for 20 years. However, the measures needed to be taken to reach that goal raise several disadvantages. The application of manure required would cause massive nitrate pollution, the practice would be uneconomic for farmers, and would call for large scale policy changes to subsidy and farm support, and removing land from agriculture would be detrimental to global food security. The article suggests that more logical and effective strategies need to be sought out to mitigate climate change.

This topic is of importance because the amount of organic carbon in soils has significantly decreased through the cultivation of crops. A high C:N ratio plays an essential role in the health and fertility of soil, and the biological and chemical processes that return nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and zinc to crops, therefore increasing soil carbon is imperative for world-wide food production. In addition, climate change is a global crisis, and although increasing carbon sequestration is deemed to be an unrealistic practice, it’s encouraging to see that individuals studying soil science like myself, are key players in finding solutions to these pressing issues.



Soil fungi may help determine the resilience of forests to environmental change

According to Zhu’s study, fungi help forests adapt to the changing environment. The growth of plants depend on the nutrients available in the soil. Mycorrhizal fungi which grow on the plants roots has a symbiotic relationship with its hosts. Mycorrhizal take up carbon resources from the host and provides soil nutrients that are essential to plant growth. The two most common fungi found in forests are: ectomycorrhizal (ECM), which grow on conifers, including pines, as well as oaks and beeches; and arbuscular (AM), which grow on most nonconifers, such as maples. Using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Inventory and Analysis program, Zhu examined how Nitrogen and Carbon levels differ in areas dominated by ECM and areas dominated by AM. He compared trees distribution to the kind of fungi present. “Distinct soil nitrogen "signatures" impact soils and ecosystems in ways that may determine the resilience of forests to the changing climate”, said Zhu. Soil C/N ratio increases with high ECM dominance. "These findings suggest that AM and ECM trees have differential success along nitrogen fertility gradients, or perhaps that AM and ECM trees promote differences in cycling rates of carbon and nitrogen because of traits associated with nitrogen acquisition," he said. "Both processes may occur simultaneously, leading to a self-reinforcing positive plant-soil feedback.” This research’s findings is of importance to me because it explains the importance of microorganisms (fungi) influence the C/N ratio of soil.



Soil fungi may help determine the resilience of forests to environmental change

According to Zhu’s study, fungi help forests adapt to the changing environment. The growth of plants depend on the nutrients available in the soil. Mycorrhizal fungi which grow on the plants roots has a symbiotic relationship with its hosts. Mycorrhizal take up carbon resources from the host and provides soil nutrients that are essential to plant growth. The two most common fungi found in forests are: ectomycorrhizal (ECM), which grow on conifers, including pines, as well as oaks and beeches; and arbuscular (AM), which grow on most nonconifers, such as maples. Using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Inventory and Analysis program, Zhu examined how Nitrogen and Carbon levels differ in areas dominated by ECM and areas dominated by AM. He compared trees distribution to the kind of fungi present. “Distinct soil nitrogen "signatures" impact soils and ecosystems in ways that may determine the resilience of forests to the changing climate”, said Zhu. Soil C/N ratio increases with high ECM dominance. "These findings suggest that AM and ECM trees have differential success along nitrogen fertility gradients, or perhaps that AM and ECM trees promote differences in cycling rates of carbon and nitrogen because of traits associated with nitrogen acquisition," he said. "Both processes may occur simultaneously, leading to a self-reinforcing positive plant-soil feedback.” This research’s findings is of importance to me because it explains the importance of microorganisms (fungi) influence the C/N ratio of soil.



Your Everyday backyard drone is on duty!

Regarding the situation where some farmers are trying to cheat on soil regulation in UK, the government sent drones to monitor their everyday agriculture practices. Soil regulation is more important than ever, monoculture, overused pesticides and herbicides can cause soil to lose aggregates, little macropores can decrease the microorganisms activities; chemicals can drastically change soil pH and furthermore affect nutrients retention in the soil, overall, without regulation, soil can lose productivity in a very short period of time. Without a productive soil, it can be compact very easily and is susceptible to any heavy weathering. without a decent distribution of macropores, the soil has very little water infiltration, water will tend to stay on the surface and create water run-off. It is a dangerous situation when there is a deep soil slope structure formed near villages. And that is why having drones to monitor the farmer 24/7 is crucial for agriculture.



How tiny plastic particles are polluting our soil

The article states the impact of micro plastics in soil, sediments and freshwater and their long term negative effects on the ecosystem. The researchers estimate that one third of plastic waste will end up in soil or freshwater, where they further disintegrate into micro plastics and nano particles. As stated by the research, these nano particles can enter the food chain and can have dire effects on soil biology and chemistry. As micro plastics can carry disease causing organisms via water distribution from sewer systems, they can affect soil fauna. One example given by the article is that the fitness of the earthworms could be affected, making their burrows different. Micro plastics can also affect soil chemistry by releasing harmful chemicals, which then could seep into soil horizons and undergo transformations to leach out additives such as BPA (phthalates and Bisphenol A) harmful to the soil and the soil animals. This article is particularly important since the impact of micro plastics can affect soil fauna. Soil fauna (i.e earthworms) are vital to the soil. Earthworms are tillers of soil, improves the amount of macro pores of the soil, the rooting of plants and their casts are components of soil aggregates. Changes in the earthworm's behavior can decrease the quality of soil. Although the article states that the researchers have little research about the effect on micro plastics, their effects in soil biology and chemistry should not be overlooked.



A Secret Superpower, Right in Your Backyard

Within this article, Ph.D Candidate Carly Ziter has discovered that backyard green spaces may reduce global climate change affects more effectively than urban forests or negative grasslands. This was published on March 6th 2018 by the Ecological Society of America. Through her process, it was found that soil in forest ecosystem was better at absorbing water but soil similar to that in your backyard, that on developed land, was better at absorbing carbon. She is unsure why this is the case at the moment, but studies to discover the cause behind this effect are underway. This information is important to me because it encourages the importance of backyard gardens and backyard greenspaces, and it can be applied to the Carbon Cycle, which we talked about in class.



Vegetation controls the future of the water cycle

The articles talks about the relationship between vegetation, CO2 and the hydrologic system, with soil being the medium. The article comes to a conclusion that vegetation water regulates carbon uptaking by land. In addition, the article claims that the future carbon and water cycles are coupled, that vegetation water contribute to the changing of climate. It is important because water resources is essential to the survival of plants and animals. Understanding how vegetation may control climate of the Earth, we are able to make plans which can reduce the change in climate of the land. The article is related to the topic of gas exchange and water content in soil in APBI 200.



Soil Aerators

This article is a press release that details how the market for soil aerators is growing fast. Soil aerators include equipment which allow for secondary tillage that de-compacts agricultural soil. The growth of this market is related to trends in population growth, increased demand for food, shrinking arable land, and increased mechanization of farming in developing countries. Connecting the article to APBI 200, we can tell that these trends are important because they are related to soil quality. Increased population not only means an increase in demand for food, but also increased human impact on soil, through pollution, mismanagement, and compaction. As APBI 200 students, we know compaction leads to poor pore distribution (many micropores) and poor drainage, which will not allow for sufficient oxygen for plants. With more soil being compacted worldwide, less and less land is arable for farming, and we are not able to meet the needs of a growing population. I find this article very interesting because it demonstrates the economic effects that will be felt from the mistreatment of soil.



Soil Aerators

This article is a press release that details how the market for soil aerators is growing fast. Soil aerators include equipment which allow for secondary tillage that de-compacts agricultural soil. The growth of this market is related to trends in population growth, increased demand for food, shrinking arable land, and increased mechanization of farming in developing countries. Connecting the article to APBI 200, we can tell that these trends are important because they are related to soil quality. Increased population not only means an increase in demand for food, but also increased human impact on soil, through pollution, mismanagement, and compaction. As APBI 200 students, we know compaction leads to poor pore distribution (many micropores) and poor drainage, which will not allow for sufficient oxygen for plants. With more soil being compacted worldwide, less and less land is arable for farming, and we are not able to meet the needs of a growing population. I find this article very interesting because it demonstrates the economic effects that will be felt from the mistreatment of soil.



Healthy soil is the real key to feeding the world

In his article titled “Healthy soil is the real key to feeding the world”, David Montgomery discusses the ways in which to rebuild soil fertility, from degraded soils, which greatly increases the yield of the crops while using fewer pesticides. Montgomery visited several farms and found that in order to have sustainable and productive agriculture, the soils that makeup crops must be rebuilt to attain a healthy soil level. Montgomery than describes three agricultural myths: that large-scale agriculture feeds the world today, that large farms are more efficient and that conventional farming is necessary to feed the world. Lastly, he argues ways in which to build a healthy soil like no-till farming methods, crop-rotations and cover crops. This topic is important to me because I believe that sustainability is very important in creating a greener and healthier Earth. Farming causes pollution and chemicals are often used that can drain into the water, affecting human and organism health. Large farms are often bad for the environment as they are focused on having a high yield or production and use toxic chemicals in order to achieve this. Creating small sustainable farms in developing countries has little impact on the environment compared to large industrial farms and has a lot of benefits for the communities. This topic relates to APBI as it describes the ways in which soil can be affected and degraded by human activity and large-scale farming and it outlines the soil management practices necessary in order to rebuild and restore the soil.



Fertilizer on farm fields is a major source of California smog, researchers say

The article “Fertilizer on farm fields is a major source of California smog, researchers say” was written by Dale Kasler and Ryan Sabalow and published in the Sacramento Bee local newspaper on January 31, 2018 and online at http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/environment/article197653944.html. The news report discusses a study recently completed at UC Davis which determined that between 25% to 41% of nitrogen oxide emissions in California were from agricultural fields. While soils naturally release nitrogen oxide as part of the nitrogen cycle, this process is being sped up by fertilizers placed on agricultural fields in the state. Overall, this has led to an increase in air pollution because the amount of nitrogen being cycled by soil processes has been amplified by fertilizer use. This article is important because it shows the impact of altering natural soil processes and how it can affect the entire environment. In particular, the city of Sacramento has been greatly impacted by the increased amount of nitrogen fertilizers and nitrogen oxide being released into the air. The air quality of the city is of importance to me because it impacts all the citizens inhabiting the area including my own family and friends. This news article is a great example of the impacts of soil science in the real world specifically pertaining to fertilizers, the agriculture industry, and the role of the nitrogen cycle in soil and the atmosphere.



Easing the soil’s temperature

This article introduces the idea of soil temperature is important to plant growth and solutions for protecting plants when there is a sudden change in temperature. When the soil is compacted, the soil particles are squeezed together which makes them faster in temperature transmission while less compacted soil has a slower temperature change. Since the soil is compacted due to heavy machinery runs over it, “covering crops and perennial biofuel crops can relieve soil compaction”. Also, adding water to the soil can slower the heating process too. Therefore, the extra layer of crops can also prevent soil water from evaporation and keep the soil moist. The ideas in the article can be related to several topics in APBI 200. The compaction of the soil, the thermal diffusivity, and thermal conductivity and also water retention.



Crop-saving soil tests now at farmers’ fingertips

In the article “Crop-saving soil tests now at farmers’ fingertips” by Scott Weybright. Weybright talks about a new method developed by Washington State University pathologists that reduce the detection time of detecting soil pathogens by weeks. The new method uses equipment widely available to the public, and have provided information on the set-up of this method on their site. This technique is related to our course through soil organisms and how different organisms effect soil in a wide range of manners.



The main focus of this article is how soybean plants need a lot of nitrogen to make protein. To create the protein content it requires high costs. As we learned in our soil science class, we learned that bacteria are the most diverse and abundant group. That they decompose organic matter by participating in nitrification process. As the article states, soybean gets nitrogen through the biological N fixation. Nitrogen is an integral component of all amino acids, which are building blocks of all proteins. The importance of the biological N Fixation in that is the process by which organisms convert the insert N2 gas of the atmosphere to N-containing organic compounds that become available to all forms through N cycle. The article mentions how biological nitrogen fixation may sometimes not provide all the nitrogen soybean crops need. Being said, if soybean plants are sprayed with additional bacteria during their stages of growth it will lead to higher yields. After testing it, they found out that adding bacteria increased yields by 27% and 28%. However, more biological fixation, and less nitrogen through fertilizer have multiple benefits. For instance, it increases sustainability by replacing nitrogen fertilizer. Excess nitrogen fertilizer from the field can flow into bodies of water. This leads to eutrophication learned in the soil science class, in which a body of water becomes overly enriched with minerals and nutrients. Eutrophication leads to an excessive growth of plants and algae, causing oxygen depletion of the water body. Likewise, nitrogen fertilizers are produced using fossil fuels, making it a huge threat to the environment. In conclusion, there is a lot of research to be done to fix the soybeans need for nitrogen and how it can lead to high benefits.



soil in the News

this news is talking about cover crops in nitrogen's cycle in our life. the soil scientists found that hairy vetch and cereal rye had significantly different nitrogen release dynamics. Hairy vetch released more nitrogen overall compared to cereal rye. Nitrogen release was also quicker from hairy vetch plants whose growth had been halted. Cover crops also do more than release nutrients after they are terminated. They can help manage soil quality and erosion



Soil in the News- Farming and Drones

In the UK, there has been the new idea of using drones to catch farmers who are practicing poor farming and allowing excessive soil run off from their farms, partly due to erosion and partly due to unkempt fields. The drones will allow the government to check on many more farms, and even penalize farmers who are clogging rivers and contributing to floods due to the state of their soil. The biggest issue is the farmers farming on steep slopes, where significant soil degradation takes place. The drones will help identify farmers in hopes of helping them changing the way they are currently farming.



Soil drones article

This article is about the government in the UK cracking down on farmers that are using soil improperly which has been causing negative effects through soil run off. Previously the environmental protection agency could only check up on very miniscule amounts of land but they are now investing in drones that can drastically increase the amount of soil that investigators can survey. This program is expected to save a lot of money by stopping soil run off that leads to damage from flooding and clogging of rivers. The UK wants to invest in soils because they benefit future land and are better for our environment. This article relates to the soil erosion lecture because the nature of the problem that the environmental protection agency has to deal with is soil erosion due to mismanagement by the farmers. The article is interesting and important to me because it provides a solution to enforcing good soil management practices which gives more assurance that we will have arable land in the future.



Fixing soybean’s need for nitrogen

The main focus of this article is how soybean plants need a lot of nitrogen to make protein. To create the protein content it requires high costs. As the article states, soy bean gets nitrogen through the biological N fixation. Nitrogen is a integral component of all amino acids, which are building blocks of all proteins. The importance of the biological N Fixation that is the process by which organisms convert the insert N2 gas of the atmosphere to N-containing organic compounds that become available to all forms through N cycle. The article mentions how biological nitrogen fixation may sometimes not provide all the nitrogen soybean crops need. Being said, if soybean plants are sprayed with additional bacteria during their stages of growth it will led to higher yields. After testing it, they found out that adding bacteria increased yields by 27% and 28%. However, more biological fixation, and less nitrogen through fertilizer has multiple benefits. Excess nitrogen fertilizer from the field can flow into bodies of water. This leads to eutrophication learned in the soil science class, in which a body of water becomes overly enriched with minerals and nutrients. Eutrophication leads to an excessive growth of plants and algae, causing in oxygen depletion of the water body. Likewise, nitrogen fertilizers are produced using fossil fuels, making it a huge threat for the environment. In conclusion, there is a lot of research to be done to fix the soybeans need for nitrogen and how it can lead to high benefits.



Soil amendments for healthier spinach

This article introduces the solution of reducing the amount of toxic elements in the soil. The scientist did the experiment on the soil which is naturally rich in the element cadmium which is harmful for animals and humans. They reduced the amount of cadmium in the soil and fertilize the soil by adding zinc and manganese salts, limestone, and biosolids compost. In result, the soil can grow spinach without cadmium elements. This article is important because there are many soils contain toxic element due to the industrial pollution. Rebuild the soil by using trace element and organic material can protect and reuse the lands.



Soil Degradation: A Global Issue

According to this article, the health and wellbeing of 2/5 of the human population are at risk due to land degradation due to the overconsumption of products like beef, which requires forested and wetlands to be converted into agricultural lands. Scientists say around 34bn tons of fertile soil are being lost worldwide every year. An IPBES study formed by over 100 scientists and approved by 129 governments, aims to educate the global population of this crisis just like biodiversity loss and climate change. Taking information from more than 3,000 sources (governments, indigenous communities etc.), researchers claim that around 10% of GDP from ecosystem services is lost due to land degradation annually. This piece also points out that unless immediate global action takes place, the problem will only grow bigger and more difficult to solve.

This is important to me as before taking this course, as well as other soil-related courses I never really realized the importance of soil fertility on global wellbeing. I, like many, thought the soil was simply an abundant renewable resource, perhaps this mindset also attributes to the fact I have grown up in a place with less severe land degradation and erosion compared to other areas in the world. This relates to the entire APBI 200 course, but particularly the modules focused on soil fertility and its processes and the most recent module on erosion and land use by humans. It just goes to show that this knowledge will be ever so useful in the upcoming years, as we try to find a way to fix a complex problem of land degradation.



Microplastics in Compost

I read on article on ScienceNews.org discussing plastic contamination in soils. The study states that plastic microparticles were found in compost sold at grocery stores. The particles were as small as 1 mm, and as big as 2 mm. German scientist Christian Laforsch from the University of Bayreuth said that the plastics particles cover the fields, animals eat the plastic, the plastic gets into the waterways, and can even become airborne. This is important to me because plastic pollution is such a widespread problem. Small soil organisms ingest the plastic, and as larger organisms eat them due to accumulation these larger organisms ingest even more plastic. As the plastic breakdown, toxins are released into the soil, affecting the chemical properties of the soil. This also affects the soil CEC and aggregation. Additionally, we as humans consume these plastic by way of food or drinking water.



Farmer says Sask. wildfires could affect soil and crops for years

The soil science e-textbook – SoilWeb 200 – was a useful tool throughout my learning in this course. One thing I really liked about the textbook was that it was effectively a concise, summarized version of what we had to learn in class; anytime I didn’t understand the content from lectures, I refered to this resource before I began googling information. I also really like the section quizzes; they’ll be quite useful in studying for the final. However, one thing I found problematic was that the textbook was very inconsistent with how much “extra” detail there was in each section. Some sections, I found that the textbook provided extra learning to go in addition to the lectures that helped broaden my knowledge and understanding, but wasn’t necessarily directly examinable material. An example of such a section was section 1.1; we don’t necessarily need to know the full list of every single primary and secondary mineral that’s listed in this e-textbook, but it’s still useful information to know. Other times, however, I felt that the e-textbook wasn’t detailed enough; an example of such a section was soil biology – instead of actually giving an even more comprehensive list of organisms then what was provided in lecture, or what kind of soil we might find them in, this section provided a more summary of the importance of soil organisms – which I’d more or less already heard. All in all, although I somewhat enjoy this format of information being conveyed, I would suggest more consistency: either have more comprehensive information that acts as an addition to what’s provided in lecture (such as the section on primary and secondary minerals), or have it be a summary (such as the section on soil organisms).

By: Phyllis Lesnikov

Residents of Shawnigan Lake, B.C., await decision on fate of contaminated soil

This article is about the decision that Ministry of Environment made about the landfill in Residents of Shawnigan Lake, B.C. The society and people are still keeping an eye on this action. And the controversial on this problem still exists. Soil pollution becomes a problem in our modern life these years. We have to solve this to keep our high life quality and human life.This may relate to the activities that microorganism do and the importance of soil. As an APBI student, we have to know the chemical functions that bring to the soil.



Microplastics

This is important because it affects everyone not including me. Recently micro plastics have been finding their way into soil and compost, things we grow our food in and we are dependent upon.

Recently Scientists and ecologists have discovered the full fate of plastics after we dispose of them. They come full circle and end up in back where they started, with us. But more specifically, on our plates. Normally when we dispose of plastics we think they be recycled or reused and that's it. However, often people don't recycle or littler and this seems to be a stem of our problem. This is because when this occurs, animals in the ocean or small critters will accidentally ingest the plastic. Then when the pass, in small forest mammals for example, the animals decompose and their bodies mixed into the dirt by soil organisms. Now this poses another problem, lets say organic material from that area is harvested for compost to be used, or crops are planted there, these micro plastics which are in the soil or compost have now made their way to our crops. And when harvested for consumption, end up on our plate. Not only is this bad for us but it's also bad for the soil. This can kill small animals and soil organism. Aswell the soil because it then does not get all the required nutrients it needs. Many organisms such as annelids and fungi and trees depend on proper nutrients to survive, but with the plastic it can slowly break down releasing toxins into the soil which would be detrimental to these sensitive organisms. I believe this is important to me as well because as someone who likes to eat sustainablly from local places, this needs to be changed. I don't want to see plastics in the soil my food is grown in, and i definitely don't want it to possibly be consumed by me.



Microplastics may enter freshwater and soil via compost

What is the article about? This study breaks down the finding in a published study that showed micro plastic is entering the soil through composts waste from households. micro plastic enter the food web after being eaten by soil biota. Compost samples taken in grocery stores found 895 pieces of micro plastic larger than 1 mm per kilogram of dry weight.

Why is it important to you? This is important to me because I was unaware of this process being stumbling upon this article. I have already heard about marine micro plastics due to the great pacific garbage patch but micro plastic on land is something I have no heard before.

What topic does it relate to in APBI 200? Introduction of micro plastic can affect soil properties such as infiltration, effects on decomposition of organic materials and possibly harming soil organisms. A very interesting example was brought up for cucumbers wrapped in plastic. After the organic matter inside the plastic packaging gets decomposed the plastic doesn't disappear! Therefore another barrier in limiting nutrient input back into the soil



An Immune System for Crops

This article by Carl Zimmer featured in the New York Times highlights the advantages of microbial activity over pesticides in the soil for fighting crop pathogens. Zimmer utilizes multiple sources to discuss the importance of microbes in the soil, even though "we don't have a firm grasp on what it is and what it's doing"[1]. The main idea is that microbial activity in the soil uses up nutrients that would otherwise be available to crop pathogens. Thus, the presence of microbes in the soil prevents the growth of these pathogens and a natural alternative to utilizing pesticides to protect crops. This new method is trying to be spread around the gardening community, and it has proven to be successful in some cases, but fails in others because these microbes struggle to survive in a new plant environment they are not accustomed to. However, these microbes continuously evolve and adapt to their surroundings, so they may prove to be the most effective form of pest control on crops going forward.
This new development put forth by Zimmer is related to APBI 200 because we have extensively discussed the relationships between plant species and microbial activity in the soils. We have discussed how they can form symbiotic relationships to share nutrients and promote each other's growth. Our learning of nutrient cycles and their connection to soil organisms has allowed for a better understanding of the requirements for various soil organisms to survive that can be applied to Zimmer's article. There is a great amount of competition for valuable nutrients that determines what organisms can prosper. We have also briefly discussed these relationships between plants and microbes protecting plants from pathogens.
Zimmer's article is important to me because I have been extensively involved with the agriculture industry for numerous years. I have seen the detriment and concern surrounding pesticides and artificial chemicals in food production. I am eager to see natural alternatives such as this one become more prevalent and decrease the impact of commercial agriculture on the landscape and planet.



source: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Course:APBI200/Archive/2017-2018W2_Soil_in_the_News