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Nutrient and Water Use Efficiency in Soil: The Influence of Geological Mineral Amendments

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Abstract

Mineral amendments are known to improve the physical, chemical and biological properties of soil, which in turn can enhance the efficiency of nutrient and water use by plants. This chapter discusses the current state of the knowledge regarding the application of geological mineral amendments in soil which either helps to retain nutrients in soils or prevents losses of nutrients from soil and directly or indirectly contributes to improve the overall nutrient use efficiency (NUE). A critical analysis of the currently available research information recommends a site-specific (precision) management approach in order to explore the most beneficial effects of the mineral materials for increasing plants’ nutrient and water use efficiency. The management practices should include an integrated plant nutrition system (IPNS) for the best utilisation of resources including mineral materials, fertilisers and organic inputs. This holds the potential for leading to a reduced fertiliser input in modern agriculture and therefore may lower the cost of agricultural production without impacting the crop yield.