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Soils are a multifaceted and dynamic natural resource that support plant growth and affect water and air quality. Scientists have found that in-depth research is needed to unravel the complex nature of soils as well as their impact on Earth’s ecosystems.  

Importance of Soils

Managing the land according to sustainable agricultural practices is vital to counteracting the erosion and nutrient loss that can harm or destroy soil’s quality and effectiveness. Soils science is essential to understanding the conditions that affect and support life on Earth:

  • Ecosystem stability – The composition and quality of soil can either maintain or disrupt  the balance of an ecosystem
  • Climate change – Soil plays a major role in the consumption and production of greenhouse gases, affecting processes that can either mitigate or exacerbate global climate changes
  • Nutrient cycles – Sound soil management can increase farm profitability by mitigating the destructive impact of erosion and nutrient loss
  • Microbe, plant, and animal health – Organisms in soil play a critical role in plant health,  in turn taking an important part in the health of animals

NIFA’s Impact

NIFA supports activities aimed at understanding and managing the impact of soils on the environment and agricultural productivity. NIFA initiatives seek to:

  • Investigate how soils can diminish or intensify climate change
  • Research erosion control methods
  • Develop sound soil management practices  to enhance soil health
  • Teach farmers techniques to protect and improve soil health and productivity
  • Disseminate  scientific findings about soils’ impact on  ecosystems 
  • Investigate how soils perform in diverse and variable environmental and land-use conditions

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