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Do Farm Management Practices Alter Soil Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function? \ud Implications for Sustainable Land Management\ud

By Ms Lois Philipps, Dr Elizabeth A. Stockdale and Dr Christine A. Waston

Abstract

Maintaining ecosystem functions is a key issue for sustainable farming, while recent reviews (Hole et al, 2005, Fuller et al 2005) have highlighted that a wide range of taxa, including birds and mammals, benefit from organic management of land, there is a need to bring together the evidence for the impact of agricultural management practices on belowground biodiversity. A focus simply on the biodiversity of below-ground species is however not enough and there is a need to consider the contribution of below-ground biological processes to the maintenance and enhancement of a range of ecosystem services. A recent literature review on the impacts of land management practices on soil ecology and function shows clearly that farm management practices do alter below-ground biodiversity and ecosystem function. The data indicate that reducing the intensity of use of mechanical and manufactured inputs and (re)-discovering cost-effective ways to integrate biological inputs, will benefit below–ground biodiversity, particularly in lowland grassland and cropping systems. Benefits are seen from both organic and integrated systems; the evidence base is not strong enough to conclusively distinguish the benefits of these approaches from one another in lowland arable system

Topics: Soil biology, Soil quality
Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:orgprints.org:7511
Provided by: Organic Eprints

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