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Microbials – A new tool for sustainable agriculture?

Sustainable Plant Nutrition: Webinar series










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    Linking Agricultural Production Practices to Improving Human Nutrition and Health 2013
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    Dysfunctional food systems, never designed to improve human nutrition and health, are the basis of malnutrition in many poverty stricken human populations. Notably, all food systems are dependent on agricultural systems as the primary source of nutrients entering food systems. Thus, agricultural systems must play a major role in the development of malnutrition globally. If the products produced from farming systems cannot provide all the nutrients (excluding water) required for human life, malnu trition results causing increases in morbidity and mortality rates, losses in worker productivity and stagnation of development efforts in those populations dependent on these systems. Food security has been the major focus of many strategies to address malnutrition worldwide. Historically, meeting the caloric needs of populations was sufficient to meet global food security goals. However, just focusing on caloric needs alone is not sufficient. Food security programs should include the necessity that all nutrients be met by agricultural systems to redress the increases in malnutrition in mostly resource-poor families dependent on staple food crops for nourishment. “Nutrient security” should be one of the primary goals of food security programs and producing enough nutrients in agricultural systems to meet nutritional needs of all people during all seasons should be the focus. In general, well-nourished food crops grown on fertile soils contain more vitamins and micronutrients than nutr ient-stressed crops grown on infertile soils. Soil micronutrient status, cropping systems, variety selection (i.e., plant breeding) for micronutrient-dense crops (e.g., biofortification), fertilization practices, some soil amendments and livestock and aquiculture production are important factors that impact the nutrient output of these systems. A healthy agricultural industry is crucial for providing nutrients to humans. Soil quality and soil fertility have a direct influence on the nutrient lev els in food crops. Soil improvements can increase productivity and allow for greater diversity of crops without increasing the area cultivated. Agricultural tools, such as micronutrient-enriched fertilizers, and farming systems designed to meet nutritional needs should be used as sustainable strategies to reduce malnutrition. Plant breeders should include nutritional quality traits as well as yield traits as targets for enhancement when breeding for improved crop varieties. Biofortification is a new strategy that has great potential to help reduce the burden of micronutrient malnutrition globally especially in resource-poor families in rural areas. Clearly, agriculture must be closely linked to human nutrition and health if we are to find sustainable solution to malnutrition.
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    Managing taxonomic and functional diversity is the key to sustain aboveground biomass and soil microbial diversity: A synthesis from long-term forest restoration of southern China
    XV World Forestry Congress, 2-6 May 2022
    2022
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    Exploring the biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationship is one of the central goals of ecological research. Restoration is essential for supporting key ecosystem functions such as aboveground biomass production and managing soil microbial diversity. However, the relative importance of functional versus taxonomic diversity in explaining aboveground biomass and soil microbial diversity during restoration is poorly understood. Here, we used a trait-based approach to test for the importance of multiple plant diversity attributes in regulating aboveground biomass and soil microbial diversity in four 30- years-old restored subtropical forests in southern China. High-throughput Illumina sequencing was applied for detecting fungal and bacterial diversity. We show that both taxonomic and functional diversities are significant and positive regulators of aboveground biomass; however, functional diversity (FD) was more important than taxonomic diversity (TD) in controlling aboveground biomass. FD had the strongest direct effect on aboveground biomass compared with TD, soil properties, and community weighted mean (CWM) traits. Our results further indicate that leaf and root morphological traits and traits related to the nutrient content in plant tissues showed acquisitive resource use strategy which influenced aboveground biomass. In contrast to aboveground biomass, taxonomic diversity explained more of the soil microbial diversity than the FD and soil properties. Prediction of fungal richness was better than that of bacterial richness. In addition, root traits explained more variation of soil microbes than the leaf traits. Our results suggest that both TD and FD play a role in shaping aboveground biomass and soil microbial diversity; but FD is more important in supporting aboveground biomass while TD for belowground microbial diversity. These results imply that enhancing TD and FD is important to restoring and managing degraded forest landscapes. Key words: Biodiversity-Ecosystem functions; soil microbial diversity, taxonomic diversity, functional diversity, forest restoration ID: 3486373
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    Parallel sessions: People, policies, institutions and communities. Chapter Five of the Proceedings of the FAO International Symposium on the Role of Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition 2016
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    Chapter 5 contains the Report of outcomes from the three parallel sessions dedicated to the theme of people, policies, institutions and communities. The session looked at the impact of biotechnologies on agricultural productivity, environmental sustainability and socio-economic well-being. It also considered the role of evidence in policy-making. Nineteen case studies were discussed in consideration of applying non-GMO biotechnologies for smallholders, which could eventually assist policy-make rs when deciding on potential interventions involving biotechnologies for smallholders in developing countries. Specific case studies and experiences from China and India were also discussed, with reference to both GMOs and non-GMO biotechnologies. The FAO international symposium on “The role of agricultural biotechnologies in sustainable food systems and nutrition” took place from 15 to 17 February 2016 at FAO headquarters, Rome. Over 400 people attended, including 230 delegates from 75 me mber countries and the European Union, as well as representatives of intergovernmental organizations, private sector entities, civil society organizations, academia/research organizations and producer organizations/cooperatives. The symposium encompassed the crop, livestock, forestry and fishery sectors and was organized around three main themes: i) climate change; ii) sustainable food systems and nutrition; and iii) people, policies, institutions and communities. The proceedings provide the mai n highlights of the symposium which covered a broad range of biotechnologies, from low-tech approaches such as those involving use of microbial fermentation processes, biofertilizers, biopesticides and artificial insemination, to high-tech approaches such as those involving advanced DNA-based methodologies and genetically modified organisms.

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    For more information, visit the webpage http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/agribiotechs-symposium/en/.

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