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Soils and food security: challenges and opportunities

Gregory, P. ORCID: (2012) Soils and food security: challenges and opportunities. In: Hester, R. E. and Harrison , R. M. (eds.) Soils and food security. Issues in environmental science and technology (35). Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, pp. 1-30. ISBN 9781849734264

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1039/9781849735438-00001


Soils most obviously contribute to food security in their essential role in crop and fodder production, so affecting the local availability of particular foods. They also have a direct influence on the ability to distribute food, the nutritional value of some foods and, in some societies, the access to certain foods through local processes of allocation and preferences. The inherent fertility of some soils is greater than that of others, so that crop yields vary greatly under semi-natural conditions. Husbandry practices, including the use of manures and fertilisers, have evolved to improve biological, chemical and physical components of soil fertility and thereby increase crop production. The challenge for the future is to sustain soil fertility in ways that increase the yield per unit area while simultaneously avoiding other detrimental environmental consequences. This will require increased effort to develop practices that use inputs such as nutrients, water and energy more efficiently. Opportunities to achieve this include adopting more effective ways to apply water and nutrients, adopting tillage practices that promote water infiltration and increase of organic matter, and breeding to improve the effectiveness of root systems in utilising soil-based resources.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Food Security
Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Crop Science
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Soil Research Centre
ID Code:30969
Publisher:Royal Society of Chemistry

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