Soils represent a considerable part of the natural resources of Hungary. Consequently, rational land use and proper soil management – to guarantee normal soil functions – are important elements of sustainable (agricultural) development, having special importance both in the national economy and in environment protection.
The main soil fu
Society utilizes these functions in different ways (rate, method, efficiency) throughout history, depending on the given natural conditions and socio-economic circumstances. In many cases the character of the particular functions was not properly taken into consideration during the utilization of soil resources, and the misguided management resulted in their over-exploitation, decreasing efficiency of one or more soil functions, and – over a certain limit – serious environmental deterioration.
Soil resources are threatened by the following environmental stresses:
– soil degradation processes;
– extreme moisture regime;
– nutrient stresses (deficiency or toxicity);
– environmental pollution.
Environmental stresses caused by natural factors or human activities represent an increasing ecological threat to the biosphere, as well as a socio-economic risk for sustainable development, including rational land use and soil management.
The stresses are caused by the integrated impacts of various soil properties, which are the results of soil processes (mass and energy regimes, abiotic and biotic transport and transformation and their interactions) under the combined influences of soil forming factors. Consequently, the control of soil processes is a great challenge and the main task of soil science and soil management in sustainable development.
The efficient control of these processes necessitates the following consecutive steps:
• registration of facts and consequences (information on land and soil characteristics, land use, cropping pattern, applied agrotechnics, yields, with their spatial and temporal variability);
• evaluation of potential reasons (definition and quantification of soil processes, analysis of influencing factors and their mechanisms);
• assessment of the theoretical, real, rational and economic possibilities for the control of soil processes (including their risk-assessment and impact analysis);
• elaboration of efficient technologies for the „best” control alternatives (best management practice).
Scientifically based planning and implementation of sustainable land use and rational soil management to ensure desirable soil functions, without any undesirable environmental side-effects, require adequate soil information. In the last years such data were organized into a computer-based GIS soil database in Hungary, giving opportunities for the quantification, analysis, modelling and forecasting of the studied environmental stresses and for the efficient and scientifically based prevention, elimination or reduction of environmental stresses and their unfavourable ecological and economical consequences.
Special attention was paid to the assessment of various soil degradation processes, as: (1) soil erosion by water or wind; (2) soil acidification; (3) salinization and/or alkalization; (4) physical degradation (structure destruction, compaction); (5) extreme moisture regime: drought sensitivity and waterlogging hazard; (6) biological degradation; (7) unfavourable changes in the plant nutrient regime; (8) decrease of natural buffering capacity, (9) soil (and water) pollution.
The actions against undesirable environmental stresses and their unfavourable consequences are important elements of sustainable, efficient, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound crop production and agricultural development. These are joint tasks of the state, decision makers on various levels, the land owners, the land users and – to a certain extent – of each member of the society.
Pesticides play a key role in fighting weeds, pests and parasitic fungi. According to surveys, pests reduce the yield of agricultural crops by 35% worldwide. Pests, fungi and weeds account for 14%, 12% and 9% yield loss, respectively (Gáborjányi et al., 1995). Chemicals have contributed to increasing and maintaining the yields of crop product...ion for decades. Today, agricultural production (in spite of many efforts) is unthinkable without the use of pesticides (herbicides, insecticides and fungicides). On the other hand, these chemicals contribute to the pollution of the atmosphere, surface and underground waters, and agricultural soils, especially if they are applied improperly.
The sustainable agricultural production pays attention to environment-friendly cultivation-technologies; but at the same time it makes an effort to produce good quality and economical products. The examination of the herbicides’ secondary effects, fits into this chain of idas namely, how the herbicides affect – stimulating or inhibiting – the soil microbiological processes, prevention of soil fertility.
In the course of the experimental work the effect of herbicides on soil biological properties were examined in different maize (Zea mays) cultures. We wanted wished to know that how the herbicides affect the quantity change of soil microorganisms, the life of different physiological groups of bacteria and the activity of microorganisms. A small pot experiment was set up in 2008 with the application of two herbicides - Acenit A 880 EC and Merlin 480 SC – in the breeding house of the Department. The moisture content and nutrient supply were at optimal level in the experiment.
On the basis of results the following can be stated:
1. It can be stated that the two herbicides and all their doses affected negatively the number of total soil bacteria, the
inhibiting effects were significant. The quantity of microscopical fungi increased by the effect of Merlin 480 SC and decreased in the treatments of Acenit A 880 EC.
2. The Acenit A 880 EC had stimulating effect on the nitrate mobilization. The CO2-production was stimulated by the basic doses of herbicides; the other treatments did not influence the CO2-production significantly.
3. The quantity of microbial biomass-carbon –except for only one treatment- decreased significantly by the effect of herbicides. Besides it, the quantity of microbial biomass-nitrogen increased significantly in the treatments of Acenit A 880 EC.
4. The biomass of test plant decreased in the treatments of herbicides, their quantities were smaller than in the control. In the pots treated by Merlin 480 SC, parallel with the increase of doses decreased the quantity of plant-biomass.
In our experiment, we studied the impact of an organic fertilizer, Bactofil® A10 (half- and full dosage applied in field practice) and an artificial fertilizer of Ca(NO3)2 content in different dosages (20-40 mg kg-1) – in addition to control treatments – on two different soils (calcareous chernozem, humus sandy soil) in 2005-2006, the expe...riment was complemented with treatments applying 250% dosage (100 mg kg-1 N, Bactofil® A10 2.5 times the field dosage) and a compost from urban sewage (25 g kg-1 compost) was also tested on these two soil types. In the
experiment, several soil microbial parameters were studied. The experiment was set up at the Department of Agrochemistry and Soil Science using 1-kg pots.
Our laboratory experiments were performed at the soil microbiology laboratory of UD CAS Department of Agrochemistry and Soil Science, the total number of bacteria, microscopic fungi, nitrifying and aerob cellulose-decomposing bacteria were determined together with the CO2-production of soil, N content of the biomass and urease enzyme activity.
Statistical analysis of the data was done using the program SPSS 13.0, means of the measurements, deviation and significance values were calculated.
In 2005-2006, the effect of the different dosages of Bactofil® A10, and the Ca(NO3)2 fertilizer on the examined microbial parameters of calcareous chernozem and humus sandy soils can be summarized as follows:
• Concerning the total number of bacteria, both treatments were effective on calcareous chernozem soil, the higher (significant) increment in bacteria number was observed in the artificial fertilizer treatments, while in the humus sandy soil Bactofil treatments had a beneficial effect. The number of microscopic fungi also increased in both treatments, higher numbers were observed in the average of two years in the Bactofil treatments.
• The number of nitrifying bacteria was 2.5 times higher in both high-dosage treatments on calcareous chernozem soil, while on humus sandy soil a slight (not significant) increment was observed only int he high-dosage Bactofil treatment. The amount of aerob cellulose-decomposing bacteria significantly increased on calcareous chernozem soil in both the highdosage artificial fertilizer and the small-dosage Bactofil treatment, however, on humus sandy soil no significant increase was observed in either treatment.
• The CO2-production increased in both soil types, although it was not significant in either treatment. A higher (though not significant) soil respiration was observed in the Bactofil treatments in both soil types.
• The microbial biomass N values were significantly higher in the high-dosage Bactofil treatments, however, the high-dosage artificial fertilizer treatment also increased these values significantly on calcareous chernozem soil.
• On calcareous chernozem soil, urease activity was significantly increased and reduced by high-dosage artificial fertilizer treatments and Bactofil treatments, respectively. On humus sandy soil, urease activity was also reduced except for the high-dosage artificial fertilizer treatment. In 2007, the pot experiment with 250% dosages was complemented with the application of compost rich in organic matter, the results of these treatments are sumnmarized as follows:
• In the case of the total number of bacteria, all three treatments resulted in a significant increase on calcareous chernozem soil with the highest values in the Bactofil treatment. The Bactofil treatment was the most effective on the humus sandy soil, but the artificial fertilizer treatment also
resulted in a significant increment. In the case of the total number of fungi, Bactofil treatments resulted in the highest values on both soils, but the compost treatment also increased the number of fungi in calcareous chernozem significantly.
• The number of nitrifying bacteria was increased most (significantly) by the Bactofil and compost treatments on both soil types. The amount of cellulose-decomposing bacteria was significantly increased by he compost treatment on calcareous chernozem soil, while its effect was not significant on humus sandy soil. The number of these bacteria was increased significantly by the Bactofil treatment on humus sandy soil.
• On calcareous chernozem soil, all three treatments significantly increased CO2-production, while the compost treatments had the resulted in the largest increment in soil respiration on both soil types.
• The soil biomass N content was significantly increased in both soils by the compost treatment, while in the case of the humus sandy soil, the Bactofil treatment also resulted in a significant increment.
• Urease enzyme activity was significantly increased by the artificial fertilizer treatment on both soils. In calcareous chernozem soil, the Bactofil treatment resulted in a slight (not significant) reduction in enzyme activity. In humus sandy soil, the Bactoful treatment also resulted in a slight reduction, while the compost treatment increased (though not significantly) the urease activity.
Based on our results, it can be stated that all three treatments were effective with respect to the studied soil microbial parameters. For both the calcareous chernozem and the humus sandy soil, the organic fertilizer Bactofil and the compost with high organic matter content had a stronger effect on some soil microbial parameters than the artificial fertilizer.
Excretorial and fossorial activity of mammals is an important part of environment-forming activity. Mammals have influences on important biogeocenotic processes, especially on the soil processes. Determination the maintenance of soil invertase as one of diagnostic description the ecological state allowed defining limits of oscillation index in...dump areas and in clean (control) native areas. The obtained results of the investigation indicate the soil depth, duration of experiment and type of area influence on soil invertase activity with the high statistical level of significance. Positive influence is revealed on invertase activity changing on dump areas, where an active excretorial and fossorial activity of phytophagous mammals was observed.
Soil structure and its quality are fundamental properties because they control many processes in soils. Tillage, crop and other factors influence soil structure. Efficient protection of it needs indication of changes in soil structure. A new Normalized Stability Index proposed by Six et al. (2000) tries to evaluate these changes, which was comp...ared with some former used indices. The most common method (wet sieving) was modified to reduce the confounding effects of different particle size distribution of different soil types and method used to the investigation. Changes in soil structure caused by tillage and crop management therefore have been made quantitative and comparable. In this paper, we review the new method and Normalized Stability Index proposed by Six et al. (2000) and present the results of our investigations.
The crop rotation experiment, established by Vilmos Westsik in 1929, is the best known and most remarkable example of continuous production in Hungary. It is still used to study the effects of organic manure treatment, develop models and predict the likely effects of different cropping systems on soil properties and crop yields. Westsik’s cro...p rotation experiment provides data of immediate value to farmers concerning the applications of fertilisers, green, straw and farmyard manure. The experiment also provides a resource of yield, plant and soil data sets for scientific research into the soil and plant processes which control soil fertility, and into the sustainability of production without environmental deterioration. The maintenance of Westsik’s crop rotation experiment can be used to illustrate the value of long-term field experiments.