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Sep. 07, 2022

Soil scientists shared cultural practices and lessons on healthy soil-plant management

Soil scientists shared cultural practices and lessons on healthy soil-plant management

Screenshot of the speakers and participants during the opening ceremony of the MARDI-FFTC International Symposium Workshop on “Role of Healthy Soil-Plant Interactions towards Achieving Resilient Agriculture in the Asian Pacific Region”

Eleven soil scientists from eight countries (Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam) recently shared their respective cultural practices, technologies and experiences in enhancing healthy soil-plant management. Entitled “Role of Healthy Soil-Plant Interactions towards Achieving Resilient Agriculture in the Asian and Pacific Region,” the semi-hybrid workshop symposium was jointly organized by Malaysia Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) and Food and Fertilizer Technology Center for the Asian and Pacific Center (FFTC) and held last August 22 in Malaysia and Taiwan.

There were two keynote speakers from Malaysia and Japan who talked about healthy soil practices. The Malaysian speaker talked about healthy soils practices that contribute to resilient agriculture and food security as well as factors that lead to soil degradation in Asia. He said that rehabilitation of arid soil such as desert and sand tailing will give new hope to crop production and food security. On the other hand, the other keynote speaker from Japan, talked about plant adaptation to changing nutritional conditions in soils, particularly boron sensing and “nutritropism,” which basically describe how nutrients in soil conditions affect plant cells, and the way plant roots change its behavior.

In the next session on “Practical management to improve soil-plant interactions for agricultural productivity, the speaker from the Philippines, discussed how nanotechnology and nanofertilizers increased the yields of crops like rice, corn, cabbage, cacao and banana by as much as 20 to 40% and reduced the rate of application by as much as 50%. Meanwhile the speaker from Taiwan discussed how the shallow buried pipe technology can replace the action of washing salt and helps increase soil aeration, promotes root growth, reduces humidity accumulation in the greenhouse, and helps control and manage pests and diseases. The Malaysian speaker discussed some of the agronomic practices and soil fertility management used in marginal soils. These include the use of either organic or inorganic soil amendment and their co-application, improved drainage system, fertilization schedules, crop selection and an upgraded irrigation system. The speaker from Thailand discussed about the utilization of sugarcane trash to improve soil fertility. She said the utilization of microbial cell and microbial enzyme for sugarcane trash management could be an alternative to avoid the burning process and improve soil fertility. It could also be integrated with fertilizer management for sugarcane production.

In Session 4 on “Advances in soil-plant management to boost productivity, sustainability and resilience in agriculture,” the speaker from Indonesia, discussed how the use of polyacrylic acid and polyurethane as coating materials could help in the control of release of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium of compound fertilizers. Another speaker from Japan talked about a framework for vegetable fertilization and optimization of fertilizers that could help in increasing the sustainability of crop production in Japan. The Vietnamese speaker presented the results of his study on the role of biochar on soil quality, carbon storage and crop yield and said that the application of biochar products improved soil quality and increased carbon sequestration in the soils of tea and rice fields. Meanwhile the speaker from Korea talked about legacy data and his study on spatial prediction of soil organic carbon and its application in arable lands. Results indicated that soil test database could contribute to establish strategy of best soil management for soil health and climate changes control. Last but not the least, another Taiwanese speaker reported about Taiwan’s steps to adapt and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to improve agricultural resilience. They include the application of field sensors and automatic control devices for precision irrigation, use of laser leveling technology to save irrigation water, and introduction of beneficial microorganisms to control soil-borne diseases and insect pests as well as the adoption of conservation tillage and crop rotation to improve the low productivity in farmlands.

The semi-hybrid workshop was part of the 15th International Conference of the East and Southeast Asia Federation of Soil Science Societies or ESAFS and the Malaysian Society of Soil Science. It was livestreamed and broadcasted on two platforms, the Zoom platform (with close to 250 participants) and the FFTC Facebook page where the video stream reached close to 600 views.

FFTC Director Dr. Su-San Chang delivers the welcome remarks during the opening ceremony

Welcome remarks by MARDI Director General  Dato’ Dr. Mohammad Zabawi Bin Abdul Ghani

At the FFTC Board Room, FFTC Director, Dr. Su-San Chang, Dr. Dar-Yuan Lee and TARI’s Dr. Yu-Wen Lin during the workshop’s general discussion

Dr. Dar Yuan Lee, Associate Dean, College of Bioresources and Agriculture, is the moderator for the keynote session

From L to R Mr. Wen-jin JiangResearcherTainan District Agricultural Research and Extension Station,  Dr. Yu-Wen LinAssociate ResearcherAgricultural Chemistry Division, Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute and Dr. Dar Yuan Lee

Closing remarks by MARDI Deputy Director for Research Dr. Mohamad Kamal Abdul Kadir and FFTC Director Dr. Su-San Chang

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