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Researcher asks for attention to life in the soil

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

DRIEBERGEN Healthy pastures point to abundant life in the soil, Dutch researcher Nick van Eekeren has concluded. One hectare of healthy pasture may support as much as 500 kilograms of earthworms, bacteria and other soil biota he argued in his dissertation, "Grassland management, soil biota and ecosystem services in sandy soils" at the Wageningen University. Recent legislative restrictions on the use of fertilizers and irrigation, and a quest for sustainable farming systems have drawn renewed attention to the functioning of the soil and the ecosystem services it provides. Soil biota play an important role in the provision of these ecosystem services, which may be influenced by grassland management. Van Eekeren surveyed different pasture management measures on soil biota in sandy soils and explored the effect of grassland management on the ecosystem services provided by soil biota. Farmers would do well to pay attention to life in the soil because it could make a positive difference to its yield. Injecting liquid manure into the soil is not something that is positive for earthworms, he discovered.