Agriculture is often seen as being in conflict with natural resources as farmers attempt to feed the world without poisoning the Earth, said Charles W. Rice, a Kansas State University soil microbiologist and professor of agronomy. Excessive tillage, low productivity, soil erosion and residue removal result in loss of soil structure, organic matter, nutrients and biodiversity.
Even greater demands will be placed on agricultural systems in the future.
"Properly managed, agriculture ecosystems can provide food and energy security and provide environmental services," Rice said. "A sustainable agricultural system needs to consider the conservation of the soil and water in addition to production of food, fiber and energy."
Rice will present the symposium, "Managing Water and Soil Resources While Feeding the World," at the 2005 American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Conference, Feb. 19 in Washington, D.C. The conference, "Can We Feed the World Without Poisoning the Earth?" runs Feb. 17-21. Rice is also scheduled to be honored as a Fellow of the association at the conference.
Rice, who will conduct the symposium with three other presenters, will discuss the challenges and opportunities for agriculture to provide food and energy security while sustaining soil and water resources in the world. He will emphasize that productive soils and protection of water quality are the basis for a healthy and sustainable food chain.
"There are numerous examples where food production systems have depleted soil and water resources and negatively impacted air, soil and water quality," Rice said. "Combinations of excessive tillage, low productivity, soil erosion and residue removal results in loss of soil structure, organic matter, nutrients and biodiversity.