Soil Conditions and Plant Growth

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: eBook
  • Copyright: 2013-01-10
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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This book looks at historical developments of soil / plant interactions and then covers in depth the following subjects: crop science and plant genetics, soil fertility and organic matter, nitrogen and phosphorous cycles and their management, properties and management of plant nutrients, water and the soil physical environment and its management, plants and change processes in soils, and management of the soil / plant system. It concentrates on new challenges including food, energy and water security in the changing environment and includes examples and literature from around the globe.

Author Biography

Peter J. Gregory is Chief Executive of East Malling Research and a Professor at the Centre for Food Security, School of Agriculture, Policy & Development, University of Reading. He is also the author of the Wiley-Blackwell-published book, Plant Roots, and co-author of the second edition of Science and the Garden.

Stephen Nortcliff is Emeritus Professor at the Soil Research Centre, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Reading.

Table of Contents



1 The historical development of studies on soil–plant interactions

Stephen Nortcliff and Peter J. Gregory

1.1 Introduction

1.2 The search for the ‘principle’ of vegetation, –1750

1.3 The search for plant nutrients

1.4 The beginnings of soil microbiology

1.5 The development and application of modern knowledge of soils


2 Plant and crop science

Sayed Azam-Ali

2.1 Introductory principles of resource capture by crops

2.2 Growth and development

2.3 Solar radiation

2.4 Water

2.5 Integrating principles of resource capture by crops

2.6 Conclusion


3 Soil fertility

Elizabeth A. Stockdale, Keith W.T. Goulding, Timothy S. George, and Daniel V. Murphy

3.1 Introduction

3.2 Concepts of soil fertility

3.3 Plant–soil interactions determining soil fertility

3.4 Assessing soil fertility

3.5 Managing soil fertility


4 Soil organic matter

David Powlson, Pete Smith, and Maria De Nobili

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Factors influencing SOM content

4.3 Modelling SOM dynamics

4.4 Chemical structure of SOM as elucidated using new forms of spectroscopy – advances and pitfalls

4.5 Organo-mineral interactions

4.6 Fractionation methods for studying SOM

4.7 The living part of SOM – the soil microbial biomass

4.8 SOM and soil physical conditions and implications for plant growth

4.9 Soil C and climate change


5 Nitrogen and phosphorus cycles and their management

Phil M. Haygarth, Richard D. Bardgett, and Leo M. Condron

5.1 Introduction

5.2 Sources of nitrogen and phosphorus to soil-plant systems

5.3 Chemical and biological processes of nutrient cycling, transformations and bioavailability

5.4 Processes of nitrogen and phosphorus losses from soils

5.5 Nitrogen and phosphorus use in agricultural systems

5.6 Future soil nutrient cycles and environmental change


6 Properties and management of cationic elements for crop growth

Philip J. White and Duncan J. Greenwood

6.1 The movement of essential cationic elements to the root surface

6.2 Cationic elements in plants

6.3 The uptake of essential cationic elements from the rhizosphere

6.4 Cationic elements in the soil solution

6.5 Management practices increasing the acquisition of essential mineral cations

6.6 Genetic strategies to improve the efficiency of acquisition and physiological use of essential cationic elements

6.7 Concluding remarks


7 Managing adverse soil chemical environments

Mark E. Hodson and Erica Donner

7.1 Potentially toxic metals (PTMs)

7.2 Salt-affected soils (saline, sodic and saline-sodic soils)

7.3 Acid and alkaline soils


8 Managing the soil physical environment for plants

Paul D. Hallett and A. Glyn Bengough

8.1 Introduction

8.2 Basic physical properties of soil

8.3 Soil structure

8.4 Soil tilth and seedbeds

8.5 Critical soil physical conditions for plant growth


9 Soil water and its management

Anne Verhoef and Gregorio Egea

9.1 Soil water management – a general overview

9.2 Key concepts related to water in soil

9.3 Soil water and plants

9.4 Determination of soil water balance and related variables

9.5 Water management to alleviate soil water shortage

9.6 Water management to alleviate excess water


10 Plant-induced changes in soil processes and properties

Philippe Hinsinger

10.1 Introduction

10.2 Roles of plants in carbon cycling: deposition, burial and emission

10.3 Roles of plants in soil acidification

10.4 Roles of plants in the weathering of soil minerals

10.5 Conclusion


11 Sustainable management of soil and plant health by optimising soil biological function

Dominic Standing and Ken Killham

11.1 Introduction

11.2 Managing soil and plant health

11.3 Conclusion


12 Managing the soil–plant system for the delivery of ecosystem services

David W. Hopkins and Edward G. Gregorich

12.1 Introduction

12.2 Roles of soils

12.3 Sustainable soil use and soil quality

12.4 Concluding remarks



13 The new challenge – sustainable production in a changing environment

Peter J. Gregory and Stephen Nortcliff

13.1 Introduction

13.2 Human-induced environmental change

13.3 Food security and food production

13.4 Routes to sustainable intensification



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