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The Black Earth: Ecological Principles for Sustainable Agriculture on Chernozem Soils

By: David Dent, Boris P Boincean and Igori Arcadie Krupenikov

200 pages, 45 b/w 7 col illus


Hardback | Mar 2011 | #189969 | ISBN-13: 9789400701588
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1 week Details
NHBS Price: £109.99 $145/€124 approx

About this book

Soil is the Earth's living skin. It provides anchorage for roots, holds water long enough for plants to make use of it and the nutrients that sustain life. This book is about the best soil in the world - the black earth or chernozem: how it is being degraded by farming and how it may be farmed sustainably.

Industrialisation of farming has laid bare contradictions between the unforgiving laws of ecology and economics. Soil organic matter is the fuel that powers soil systems and the cement that holds the soil together but agriculture is burning it up faster than it is being formed: even the chernozem cannot long survive this treatment.

Here is the evidence for this trend and, based on long-term field experiments, ecological principles for sustainable agriculture that can reverse the trend and, at the same time, feed the world.


1. Introduction.
2. The soil cover.
3. Soil texture and structure.
4. Soil mineralogy and elemental composition.
5. Adsorption capacity and reaction.
6. Soluble salts and soil solution.
7. Humus - the guardian of soil fertility and global carbon sink.
8. The nitrogen riddle.
9. Phosphorus and sulphur budgets.
10. Life in the soil.
11. Soil structure, soil water and drought.
12. The chernozem family.
13. Accomodating soil diversity.
14. Society's perspective.
15. Biological cycles.
16. Soil health and soil quality.
17. Farming and soil health.
18. Experimental confirmation of the efficiency of various farming systems.
19. The past, present and future of the chernozem.

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Igori Krupenikov is soil scientist, Emeritus Professor, honoured member of the Moldovan Academy of Sciences and State Laureate, working at the Nicolai Dimo Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry in Chisinau.

Boris Boincean is agronomist, long-time Director and continuing Head of the Department of Sustainable Farming Systems of the Selectia Research Institute for Field Crops and also Professor at the Aleco Russo State University at Balti, in Moldova.

David Dent is former Director of ISRIC - World Soil Information in Wageningen, awarded the Australian Centenary Medallion for scientific leadership of the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, and long-time teacher and researcher at the School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia.

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