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Soil Biogeochemistry

TitleSoil Biogeochemistry
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsGlaser, Bruno
Series TitleAgroecology, Ecosystems, and Sustainability

Soil biogeochemistry deals with the biological and geochemical processes in ecosystems, including soil-plant-water-atmosphere interactions. The focus of this chapter is the identification and quantification of soil processes. Depending on the researh questions, are used well-established analytical methods such as molecular markers or biomarkers and stable isotope techniques. In addition, modern agroecology also requires the development of new analytical tools such as nondestructive and noninvasive techniques for rapid data aquisition in the field. On the other hand, more sophisticated and resource-intensive technologies such as position-specific isotope analyses are also required for process identification. This method spectrum allows us to cover research questions from the molecule to the ecosystem level or from basic to applied research. In the following, this concept is explained using the famous terra petra/biochar story as a case study. Terra petra is man-made black soil left behind by pre-Columbian people in Amazonia, occuring in a region dominated by highly weathered infertile soils and is still sustainably fertile today (Glaser el al. 2001a,b). Therefore, knowing how terra petra was made and how it works could help us to solve our problem of soil degeneration and increasing food demand.