Soil quality is of vital importance

The growing world population and increasing prosperity require a significant increase in agricultural production, not only of food crops, but also of fibre, oil and ornamental crops. This will place great demands on soils. Agricultural intensification may also lead to shorter crop rotations, resulting in increased problems with plant pathogens. To ensure sustainable crop production, maintaining soil health is of vital importance.

In soil systems everything is interconnected, and much depends on soil organic matter

Soil organic matter plays a key role in maintaining and improving soil hydrological [and biological] functioning, rooting conditions, nutrient supply and disease suppression. Organic matter levels can be increased by adding organic fertilizers such as compost, but also by growing green manures or by reducing soil tillage. Is it really this simple, that all soil problems can be solved by increasing organic matter?

Don’t make soil systems more complex than they already are

There are many products on the market for soil improvement based on a ‘holistic’ approach (plant and soil conditioners, biostimulants). Some are effective, while others are not. I want to separate fact from fable, and offer clarity about the efficacy of the various products available.

Make use of interconnected factors to improve soil quality

The beauty of soil systems is that many soil characteristics are interconnected. Hence, soil quality can be improved via various routes, by manipulating different factors. However, soil systems are also resilient to change, and therefore it’s not always easy to achieve the desired effects. What are the best factors to manipulate depends on the soil (or substrate) type, crop rotation scheme and management practices used. My aim is to help growers identify the best strategies for soil improvement.

The services I offer:

  • analyzing crop-related soil and substrate problems
  • linking science and application, theory and practice
  • advising in on-farm field experiments

Please also check my call for renewal of the research agenda on soil-borne pathogens