By Robert N. Ames, PhD, Scientist Emeritus, Agricen Sciences
Most who are involved in the agricultural industry understand that agricultural productivity is dependent on a variety of crop inputs, management practices and environmental factors that ultimately influence the quantity and quality of the crops harvested, as well as profits for the grower. In recent years, we’ve become very aware of the impact of environmental stresses due to drought, and even excessive rain, on crop yield. It has also been stressed that agricultural productivity must be considerably increased if we’re to meet the demands of an increasing population. Thus, the burden on the agricultural community is to produce more in a sustainable manner that minimizes adverse environmental affects and is minimally impacted by stress conditions. All of these present major challenges, with the ability to minimize environmental stress being the most difficult.
In this blog series, I’ll discuss the various stages of stress on the soil microbial community, how that relates to agricultural sustainability and productivity, and finally, how biostimulant technologies can help to reduce the stress cycle.
Stresses to crop productivity are usually thought of in terms of drought, hot or cold weather, nutrient deficiencies, pests and disease pressure and related issues. Generally, the soil’s involvement in crop stress is not considered unless issues such as compaction, poor or excessive water retention, or nutrient deficiencies become very apparent. Symptoms of crop stress are often readily observed and can occur fairly quickly during the growing season, while those of the soil may take many years to manifest themselves. Very little thought is given to the impact of stress on the soil microbial community and how that may impact crop stress and productivity.
But this is a topic worthy of further discussion and discovery, which I will explore in the next post.
Read other chapters: Ch 2, Ch 3, Ch 4