Soil Inoculation as Steering tool for Restoration Process

By Vijaylakshmi Suman

In urban spaces, where major regions are controlled by humans, degradation of ecosystems is likely to happen. In such circumstances, ecological restoration offers a mode for recovery so that biodiversity can be protected. However, the process is neither easy nor linear, due to abiotic (for example eutrophication) and biotic  (for example composition of soil) constraints (Wubs et.al, 2016). A recent article in ‘New Scientist’ indicates how soil can influence restoration process. Soil functionality can be understood as the effect of soil on growth of plants in terms of biological productivity, nutrient cycling and physical stability. In fact, soil affects 80% of ecosystem services, thus, in restoration work apart from recovering function of soil, the focus should also be to restore ecosystem functions and services (Rojas et.al, 2016). Manipulation of soil can act as key element for successful restoration, as plant and soil communities are strongly interconnected and influence each other during succession process when ecosystems are developing. Soil inoculation is one of the techniques to accelerate the same. It can be understood as introduction of certain desirable bacteria into the soil. Adding a thin layer of healthy soil to degraded land quickens the restoration process and gives direction for it to grow (Wubs et.al, 2016). Wubs’s team has conducted field experiments to state that inoculation shapes the ecosystem from the beginning. His team found some interesting results, like inoculation changed the abundance and variety of bacteria, fungi and worms living in the soil. During restoration, one can expect this technique to facilitate large areas of degraded land to be restored in much lesser time. In Dheerpur Restoration Project, soil quality has been found saline and toxic after soil testing process; soil inoculation could be one of the techniques which could be used to improve the quality of soil and even accelerate the restoration process. Such manipulation of soil communities through soil inoculation could be used as one of the significant ways to restore degraded terrestrial ecosystems. The process of soil inoculation seems promising in the field of restoration, yet some of the plant-soil community interactions have not been studied. For instance, to what level soil community will influence plant community growth towards different target states.

Hence, there may possibly be ways of interventions which can lead to successful restoration by experimenting with manageable factors, soil inoculation being one of them. Regardless, these processes may vary at different places and the results can differ, thus leaving scope for other biotic and abiotic factors to play its role or which could also be managed creating successful restoration.

 

 

References:

Wubs, E.R.J., Putten, W.H.V., Bosch, M., Bezemer, T.M., (2016). Soil inoculation steers restoration of terrestrial ecosystems. Nature Plants.

Muñoz-Rojas, M., Erickson, T.E., Dixon, K.W., Merritt, D.J., (2016). Soil quality indicators to assess functionality of restored soils in degraded semiarid ecosystems.  Restoration Ecology, 24, S43-S52.

Page, M.L., (2016). Soil organisms alone can determine which plants grow where. New Scientist.

Leave a Reply