Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Unearthing and protecting soil functions

14.06.2013
Residential and infrastructure construction projects are expanding at the expense of land under cultivation.

Beneath the surface, the ecosystem soil performs important services: It gives nutrients to plants, and provides clean drinking water. The new National Research Programme “Sustainable use of soil as a resource” (NRP 68) aims to uncover these functions, heightening awareness of the finite resource beneath our feet.

The debate about the growing housing requirement and the resulting increase in urban development is lacking a dimension: all of the arguments are literally superficial, focusing not on volume but on the surface area, which is increasingly scarce, especially in the Swiss central plateau (Mittelland). In contrast, the National Research Programme “Sustainable Use of soil as a Resource” (NRP 68), which was launched this year, is going underground to improve understanding and appreciation of the soil ecosystem in a three-dimensional context.

“The methods and concepts that are being developed in NRP 68 should ensure that greater attention is paid to soil functions, thus improving the sustainable management of soil as a resource,” says Josef Zeyer, Professor of Environmental Microbiology at ETH Zurich and President of the Steering Committee of the new research programme.

The unknown living environment under the ground
The objective of NRP 68 is to increase the knowledge about life below the surface, so that, in the future, greater attention can be given to the soil when planning new construction zones, for example. An abundance of bacteria, fungi and nematodes exists underground. While these organisms are often invisible to the naked eye, they break down organic residues, providing plants with nutrients. They also stabilise the structure of the soil and remove impurities from groundwater. Can agriculture improve the use it makes of this environment? What effects will the anticipated climatic changes have on the soil’s role as a carbon store in the future? And can the purchase or lease of land in Africa by Swiss enterprises to produce food using industrial agricultural methods be justified?

Nineteen research projects are studying questions ranging from investigations into the increase of pollutants in cultivated soils in Switzerland to assessments of the political and social economic factors that contribute to our unrestrained consumption of the ground and to urbanisation. The NRP 68 programme will have access to CHF 13 million over the next five years in order to achieve its objectives.

More detailed information is available at www.nrp68.ch.
Contact
Prof. Josef Zeyer
President of the NRP 68 Steering Committee
Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics, ETH Zurich
Universitätstrasse 16
CH-8092 Zurich
Tel: +41 44 633 60 44
E-mail: zeyer@env.ethz.ch

Abteilung Kommunikation | idw
Further information:
http://www.snsf.ch
http://www.nrp68.ch

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Alkaline soil, sensible sensor
03.08.2017 | American Society of Agronomy

nachricht New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
26.06.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>