Agroecology Soil Management

• One vital principle of agroecology that contrasts itself with more conventional agronomic approaches is its focus on, among other things, soil management and the recycling of nutrients.
• Incorporation of traditional agricultural knowledge and modern science – gives way to polycultures, agroforestry, cover cropping, and the integration of livestock. Soil managaement often overlooked in convention farming systems, and most notably in Africa.
• Three distinct and interrelated categories to divide soil management: physical structure, nutrient dynamics, and biota.
o Modern agriculture since the Green Revolution has impacted all three of these categories by compensating long-term sustainability for short-term gain in nutrient status
o Physical Structure – soil texture an important property and the structure of the soil is a result of the nature of soil interacting with the biota.
• Pore space distribution becomes crucial for determining the uptake of water by crops in an agricultural system. With too much pore space, there are increased levels of evaporation and an overall net loss in moisture. When there is too little pore space, water cannot go into fine pores and most water is lost as runoff.
• Porosity of the soil is important in its role in crop growth in agricultural systems and also in environmental quality, due to the fact that runoff can be generated from low porosity soils.
o Nutrient Dynamics and Biota – the biota of agricultural systems has a distinct effect on nutrient dynamics, just as nutrient limitations in a given soil can exclude certain types of biota.
• Microorganisms and other types of plant and animal life is key in nutrient cycling within an agroecological system, as they are low-input ways of harboring available nutrients for crops.
• Microogranisms knows as N-fixers in the soil make N in a form that is useful for plants. They can exist in a mutualism with legumes. Legumes then become an important rotational or polyculture crop for many agroecosystems as they are planted to fix N in the soil through their fixing bacteria.
• Intercropping legumes and non-legumes in agroecosystems could facilitate the growth of non-legumes by supplying it with the extra nitrate in the soil.
• In agroecosystems, the N is removed when harvesting crops and can be returned to the system in the form of human manure when it is applied.
o Earthworms are important in agroecosystems because they promote dispersal of mycrorrhizal fungi and suppress diseases as well as turning the soil and effectively fertilizing it. Also, can protect the soil against erosion and create a more healthy soil structure.
o Trees in agroforestry serve as nutrient pumps, decrease soil erosion, and increase productivity by providing shade and conserve water in arid regions such as Nigeria.

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