Kansas State University
Soil degradation is one of the most important problems for sustainable agriculture worldwide. Because tropical soils have been studied less than temperate soils, understanding and developing methods for stopping tropical soil degradation is an important topic for the SANREM CRSP. SANREM also provides a unique social science context for studying human impacts on soil degradation. The program’s External Evaluation Panel in 2007 recommended applying soil metagenomic approaches to tropical soils to identify indicators of soil degradation. Ultimately, more complete profiles of soil communities will also contribute to the development of methods to foster disease-suppressive soils and soil communities that optimize other microbes’ contributions to plant health and productivity.
1. Characterize soil microbial communities from soils representing a range of levels of degradation 2. Identify microbial taxa that are indicators for levels of degradation, especially those that may indicate the process of degradation has begun but is still reversible, and 3. Link soil community structure to both the general soil biophysical context and the social science context to understand human impacts and drivers of human decision-making for soil management.