Soil Health, Soil Biology, Soilborne Diseases and Sustainable Agriculture

A Guide

June 2016
More details
  • Publisher
    CSIRO Publishing
  • Published
    8th June 2016
  • ISBN 9781486303045
  • Language English
  • Pages 280 pp.
  • Size 6.625" x 9.625"
  • Images 191 full color photos & 60 illus
  •    Request Exam Copy

Our capacity to maintain world food production depends on the thin layer of soil covering the Earth’s surface. The health of this soil determines whether crops can be grown successfully, whether a farm business is profitable and whether an enterprise is sustainable in the long term.

This book provides information about the bacteria, fungi, nematodes and other soil organisms that not only harm food crops but also help them take up water and nutrients and protect them from root diseases. With illustrations and case studies, it provides growers with holistic solutions for building an active and diverse soil biological community capable of improving soil structure, enhancing plant nutrient uptake and suppressing root pests and pathogens.

An essential resource for anyone who works with soil, including growers, consultants, agronomists and soil chemists and for extension personnel working in the grains, livestock and horticulture.

* A comprehensive and readable coverage of the causes and effects of soilborne diseases
* Discusses the fundamentals of soil biota and the key pathogens in Australian agriculture
* Gives a step-by-step guide to biological processes to minimizing losses to diseases


1) Introduction: soil health, soil biology, sustainable agriculture and evidence-based information

2) Soil physical, chemical and biological properties and the key role of organic matter in promoting soil and plant health

3) Organisms in the soil food web and their functions

4) Soilborne diseases: a major impediment to crop production

5) Impact of natural enemies on soilborne pathogens

6) A practical guide to improving soil health and reducing losses from soilborne diseases

7) Grain farming systems to improve soil health and enhance biological suppression of soilborne diseases

8) Annual and perennial pastures to improve soil health in grain-cropping systems

9) Yield decline of sugarcane: a soil health problem overcome by modifying the farming system

10) Vegetable farming systems: the challenge of improving soil health and sustainability in an industry that demands high levels of productivity

11) Options for improving soil health and minimising losses from soilborne diseases in perennial horticultural crops

12) Key soil health messages, and practices that should be included in holistic soil improvement programs

13) Further reading


Graham R. Stirling

Graham R. Stirling has 35 years experience in research, has published more than 70 scientific papers and has been made an Honorary Member and Fellow of the Australasian Plant Pathology Society for his services to the Society and to Nematology. He has extensive experience in both temperate and tropical agriculture, having worked in Queensland, South Australia and California on many crops, including wheat, rice, stonefruit, apples, citrus, grapes, pineapples, ginger, sugarcane, tomatoes, potatoes, and other vegetables. He is recognized internationally for his work on nematodes, particularly biological control, and is also an experienced plant pathologist and soil biologist. Dr. Stirling with his wife Marcelle, runs a company that provides research and disease diagnostic services to Australia's rural industries.

Helen Hayden

Helen Hayden is a Soil Microbial Ecologist at the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources in Victoria.

Tony Pattison

Tony Pattison is the Principal Nematologist and Soil Health team leader for horticulture within the Queensland Department of Agriculture. He investigates plant-parasitic nematodes and soil health in diverse tropical horticultural crops.

Marcelle Stirling

Marcelle Stirling is a Plant Pathologist and Microbiologist and has worked on many aspects of soil biology.