Knowledge of soil biology to reduce nitrogen loss as N2O from sugarcane farming

McGrath, K., Brackin, R.T., Lakshmanan, P., Schenk, P.M.P. and Schmidt, S. (2008). Knowledge of soil biology to reduce nitrogen loss as N2O from sugarcane farming. In: Bruce, R.C., Proceedings of the Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologies. Conference of the Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologies, Townsville, Australia, (115-126). 29 April - 2 May 2008.

Author McGrath, K.
Brackin, R.T.
Lakshmanan, P.
Schenk, P.M.P.
Schmidt, S.
Title of paper Knowledge of soil biology to reduce nitrogen loss as N2O from sugarcane farming
Formatted title
Knowledge of soil biology to reduce nitrogen loss as N2O from sugarcane farming
Conference name Conference of the Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologies
Conference location Townsville, Australia
Conference dates 29 April - 2 May 2008
Proceedings title Proceedings of the Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologies   Check publisher's open access policy
Place of Publication Australia
Publisher Scribe Consulting
Publication Year 2008
Sub-type Fully published paper
ISSN 0726-0822
Editor Bruce, R.C.
Start page 115
End page 126
Total pages 12
Collection year 2009
Abstract/Summary Contemporary cropping systems have to combine high yields with environmental sustainability. The conversion of nitrogen (N) fertiliser to forms which are easily lost from soil (as nitrate or gaseous N compounds) is driven by soil biology, specifically the soil microbial community. Although knowledge of soil microbial activity is crucial for minimising N loss, it is not known how soil conditions and associated microbes can best be manipulated through farming practices. We have developed new tools for fingerprinting microbial activities in soil. Our new method quantifies, for the first time, the activities of microbial genes that are switched on or off under certain conditions in the soil. The method links soil parameters and microbial activities by using a new custom-made microarray. The advantage of this novel mRNA-based approach is that it (i) measures of the ‘microbial activity’ rather than the ‘presence’ of specific microbes, (ii) monitors ‘activities’ of many microbial groups simultaneously, (iii) provides insights into whole-system soil biology. We have applied this technique to monitor microbial activities in cane soils with different management histories. Our preliminary results indicate that the method can successfully detect differences in the microbial activities of soils with different fertiliser application and N2O emission rates (Mackay), and different cropping history (Ingham). Ultimately this research will provide information for farmers to effectively manipulate soil biology to reduce N loss and improve productivity.
Subjects E1
060504 Microbial Ecology
829802 Management of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Plant Production
050303 Soil Biology
Keyword Microbial activity
Microarray
Nitrogen
Nitrous oxide
Sugarcane
Farming systems
Sustainability
Q-Index Code E1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code

 
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Created: Wed, 11 Mar 2009, 17:37:48 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences