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Stressed out Soils: A Conversation with Jane Lucas

Healthy soils produce the majority of our food supply, buffer extreme weather, and safeguard water resources. They lock away twice the amount of carbon stored in plants and trees, and are hotspots for antibiotic discoveries. Yet we are losing fertile soil much faster than it can be replaced.

Jane Lucas is an ecologist researching threats facing soils, and how they can be understood and managed in the face of global change.

In conversation with Cary President Josh Ginsberg, Lucas explores the state of soils. This includes insight into her research on microbial ecology, soil food webs, and how antibiotic introductions into our soil environments shapes microbiomes, antibiotic resistance, and soil's ability to store water and carbon.

She also discusses Stressed Out Soils, a large-scale experimental project that is the first to look at how drought, warming, fungicides, antibacterials, and pesticides interact to shape soil health. Eighty plots have been established on grasslands at Cary Institute’s research campus, and will be a model for similar experiments around the US.


Soil health initiatives

Soil Health Institute
USDA NRCS Soil Health: Management training and soil health assessments
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE): Farmer grant program and partnership grant program
American Farmland Trust: Soil health stewards program

New York State

New York Soil Health: Climate Resilient Farming grant and Agricultural and Non-Point Source Pollution Abatement and Control Program
New York State Department of Health: Soil health testing


Presentation (pdf)

Threats to soil health.
Threats to soil health.
Antibiotics in soils.
Antibiotic resistance: The resistome.


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