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Latest Soil biology Stories

2010-11-17 17:06:17

Research has important implications for both agriculture and energy Scientists at the University of Cambridge are working on ways to improve the efficiency of the ammonia synthesis process. With between 3-5% of the world's natural gas used to create artificial fertilizers, the new research could have major implications for both the agricultural and energy sectors. Ammonia (NH3) is one of the most important chemicals in the modern world, due mainly to its use in the manufacture of artificial...

2010-11-03 13:47:36

A new breakthrough by scientists at the University of Sheffield has shed light on how the Earth's first plants began to colonise the land over 470 million years ago by forming a partnership with soil fungi. The research, which was published today (2 November 2010) in Nature Communications, has provided essential missing evidence showing that an ancient plant group worked together with soil-dwelling fungi to 'green' the Earth in the early Palaeozoic era, nearly half a billion years ago. The...

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2010-10-08 18:00:00

Resulting ecological damage is serious, but could be reduced by wider use of more sustainable, time-honored practices Humans are overloading ecosystems with nitrogen through the burning of fossil fuels and an increase in nitrogen-producing industrial and agricultural activities, according to a new study. While nitrogen is an element that is essential to life, it is an environmental scourge at high levels. According to the study, excess nitrogen that is contributed by human activities pollutes...

2010-10-08 02:24:37

Resulting ecological damage is serious, but could be reduced by wider use of more sustainable, time-honored practices Humans are overloading ecosystems with nitrogen through the burning of fossil fuels and an increase in nitrogen-producing industrial and agricultural activities, according to a new study. While nitrogen is an element that is essential to life, it is an environmental scourge at high levels. According to the study, excess nitrogen that is contributed by human activities pollutes...

2010-09-14 12:38:40

Farming practices have a significant impact on the diversity of beneficial microbial fungi known to play important roles in crop productivity, soil recovery and maintenance of healthy ecosystems, according to new research published today (14 September 2010) in the journal Environmental Microbiology. The conclusions could have important implications for the way humans manage the agricultural landscape and tackle food security issues. The study was led by Dr Christopher van der Gast at the...

2010-08-09 14:20:54

Nitrogen-altering bacteria thrive under charcoal deposition When fire burns down a forest, nitrate levels go up, and the effects are persistent, according to recent research from University of Montana scientists. They found that charcoal deposited during fire events has the potential to stimulate the conversion of ammonia to nitrates, an important step in the nitrogen cycle. Led by Patrick Ball, the research team found that a type of bacteria that transforms ammonia into nitrates was found in...

2010-06-11 01:47:29

By tinkering with a type of fungus that lives in association with plant roots, researchers have found a way to increase the growth of rice by an impressive margin. The so-called mycorrhizal fungi are found in association with nearly all plants in nature, where they deliver essential nutrients"”specifically phosphate"”to plants in return for sugar. The findings are nevertheless a surprise, according to researchers reporting online on June 10th in Current Biology, a Cell Press...

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2010-03-25 08:31:14

Twenty years of field studies reveal that as the Earth has gotten warmer, plants and microbes in the soil have given off more carbon dioxide. So-called soil respiration has increased about one-tenth of 1 percent per year since 1989, according to an analysis of past studies in the March 24 issue of Nature. The scientists also calculated the total amount of carbon dioxide flowing from soils, which is about 10-15 percent higher than previous measurements. That number -- about 98 petagrams of...

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2010-03-16 13:59:29

"Essex," a new lentil variety developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists, has a lot to offer: high seed yields for growers, nitrogen-fixing bacteria for wheat crops, and a tasty source of protein for consumers to add to soups, salads and other fare. George Vandemark, a plant geneticist who leads the ARS Grain Legume Genetics and Physiology Research Unit in Pullman, Wash., developed Essex in collaboration with Fred Muehlbauer, now retired from ARS, and Kevin McPhee, a pulse...

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2010-03-01 11:24:00

Nitrogen is vital for all plant life, but increasingly the planet is paying a heavy price for the escalating use of nitrogen fertilizer. Excess nitrogen from fertilizer runoff into rivers and lakes causes algal blooms that create oxygen-depleted dead zones, such as the 6,000 to 7,000 square mile zone in the Gulf of Mexico, and nitrogen in the form of nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas. But new findings by Stanford researchers that reveal the inner workings of nitrogen-producing bacteria...