Issue 25, December 2016
In this issue of Soil Horizons we highlight new and ongoing research to understand system complexity. Several articles demonstrate how new technologies can contribute to resolving science conundrums and we review new efforts in knowledge transfer and capacity-building.
In this issue
The new faces of soil research
In 2006 the International Union of Soil Sciences challenged 55 of the world’s leading soil scientists with the question ‘what is the future of soil science? Their answers paint a picture of an evolving field of science.
New MBIE research programme preview
Landcare Research has been successful in obtaining long-term MBIE funding in the latest round, including investment for three soil-related research programmes.
New ways of removing excess nitrogen from agricultural ecosystems
Adding fertiliser nitrogen (N) to soil is a common agricultural practice worldwide, but less than 20% is actually harvested in plants. The remaining excess nitrogen is reactive and can have undesirable environmental consequences. A group of New Zealand and USA scientists recently discovered a previously unknown pathway for removing excess reactive N in soil.
Measuring bank erosion using historical aerial photography and LiDAR
Bank erosion is commonly perceived as a significant contributor to river sediment loads but there are few measurements to quantify bank erosion rates. Landcare Research scientists have studied river bank erosion in the Kaipara Catchment in Northland to better understand the sediment dynamics of rivers and measure lateral migration of meandering channels.
Forest health and resilience modulated by soil microbes
Forest soil microbes play a critical role in the modulation of tree health and disease expression. Tree disease is expressed when environmental conditions favour pathogens and insect pests. The kauri forests of New Zealand are being compromised by a novel soil-borne pathogen and radiata pine forests are being blighted by an exotic foliar pathogen.
Net carbon uptake of irrigated dairy pasture can offset its own nitrous oxide emissions
We have completed a 3-year experiment on a commercial dairy farm in mid-Canterbury, grazing 900 cows, in order to construct net C and net GHG budgets of an irrigated, intensively managed pasture on a well-drained stony soil (Lismore).
Maximising the value of irrigation
The MBIE Programme ‘Maximising the Value of Irrigation’ is undertaking research to support industry develop irrigation control systems that improve productivity, minimise wasted water, and reduce negative environmental impacts such as ponding and nitrate leaching.
Apps for Irrigation Control
Scientists at Landcare Research are developing apps for smart phones and tablets that monitor soil moisture status for irrigation scheduling, and allow control of irrigation equipment.
A global spectral library for soils
Visible–near infrared (vis-NIR) soil spectroscopy is a relatively new technology for rapid prediction of some soil properties. The reflectance of light in the visible and infra-red range of the electromagnetic spectrum relates to the bonding and stretching vibrations of molecules in the soil – primarily molecules containing carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms.
The Innovative Data Analysis research programme: an overview and progress to date
The Innovative Data Analysis (IDA) programme is an MBIE-funded research project to develop better infrastructure and tools to access and make use of existing data to support environmental reporting and decision-making.
Securing soils knowledge for the Pacific
Since the 1950s New Zealand soil scientists from DSIR Soil Bureau, and more recently from Landcare Research, have been visiting Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) undertaking soil surveys and capacity-building to help agriculture and primary sector agencies improve soils knowledge and land-management practices. The breadth and depth of that work has been summarized in Leslie (2010) and been largely funded via New Zealand Aid.
Unleashing the full potential of S-map Online through practical training courses
S-map Online is a national soils database that aims to provide fast, simple access to New Zealand soil data. However, a recent survey revealed significant demand for more education about S-map, what it can be used for, and how it can be applied.