Integrated Crop Management News

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The loss of organic matter and its nutrient value by erosion has significant effect on both the long-term sustainability of the soil nutrient pool and soil productivity. Nutrient availability in the soil to plants is inherently linked to the soil organic matter pool that is replenished through plant-animal-soil-atmosphere interactions, creating different pools of organic matter. These different carbon pools play a significant role in providing nutrients to plants through the decomposition process by the soil microbial community over time (Fig. 1). Thus, loss in soil productivity cannot be decoupled from the loss of organic matter. The removal of soil organic matter through erosion and its associated economic cost far exceeds the estimated cost of the primary nutrient components of the soil: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Soil organic matter lost to soil erosion contains not only these three primary nutrients, but also other macro and micro nutrients that need to be factored into the calculation of determining the cost of organic matter loss as a nutrient source. Therefore, any attempt to determine the value of nutrient loss, has to take into consideration the long-term impact on soil productivity.

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Iowa State University



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