Monday, 10 July 2006 - 2:15 PM

South America Priorities in Soil Science Research.

Carlos C. Cerri1, Carlos E. P. Cerri1, Martial Bernoux1, and Pedro Sanchez2. (1) Univ de São Paulo, Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura - CENA/USP, Laboratório de Biogeoquímica Ambiental, P.O. Box 96., Piracicaba,, 13400-970, Brazil, (2) Columbia Univ, 61 Route 9W, P. O. Box 1000, Palisades, NY 10964

We propose two main simultaneous strategies to address the priorities in soil science research in South America. Strategy 1. The main goal is to valorize the enormous efforts in acquiring South America scientific knowledge in soil science aiming to transform the obtained information in technological aspects, to be addressed to farmers and decision makers. To achieve this goal we propose a South America soil science synthesis activity in which the available information in the literature would be collated. Besides providing the ways to transform state-of-art scientific knowledge in applied technologies, it would also serves as a diagnostic tool, pointing out gaps that need more research and further development. Promising subjects for the synthesis could be i) soil drainage and irrigation; ii) soil pathogens and weeds that affect plant production; iii) soil fertility and plant nutrition with the aim to increase plant productivity taking into account sustainable development and environmental aspects. One possibility to achieve this goal is to organize scientific meetings in the scope of intergovernmental panels only to synthesize available data in the literature rather than disseminating new findings. Strategy 2. The other action is to intensify studies in important issues that directly reflect to the human quality of life. This strategy, which can be performed simultaneously with the synthesis, is related to the research intensification of emerging topics such as i) soil biodiversity with emphasis on microbiology and its implications on conservation and use for human health (cure of diseases, pharmacies etc); ii) remediation of polluted soils and rehabilitation of degraded areas, including pasture reformation; iii) soil and water management and its conservation to avoid desertification; iv) managing soil structure and tilth to minimize the risks of erosion, compaction, crusting and hard-setting; v) biogeochemical cycles linking plant productivity and environmental impacts; vi) soil carbon sequestration as global warming mitigation; vii) soil vulnerability to climate change. This topic of research should focus on how soil physical, chemical and biological attributes reacts in a global warming environment. Such issue is of great importance for South America, since the agriculture sector is the main contributor to the gross domestic product. Finally, soil science, when applicable, should interact with socio-economic sciences in order to accomplish human dimension in a broader view. Information from those researchers is necessary for stacke holders and decision makers to implement adaptation technologies to minimize the negative impacts on food production.

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