Events & Media

The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
at the University of California, Santa Barbara



"Toward a Better Understanding of the Role of Soil Microbiology in Agricultural Production"

Ronald F. Turco, PhD
Director, Purdue Water Community;
Professor, Department of Agronomy,
Purdue University

Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013
11:30 - 12:30
Bren Hall 1414

"Policies frequently change without adequate scientific understanding of environmental processes or responses. In this timely seminar, international soil microbial ecology expert Professor Ron Turco shares his research that disentangles complex soil processes, showing how they relate to status quo, then current policy-driven changes, in agriculture." — Hosted by Trish Holden

Ronald F Turco

Intensive agriculture production in the midwestern U.S. helps to feed the country, but have significant environmental impacts that must be better understood in order to be managed. The situation has become more complex as it is now suggested that plant residues can be used as part of a biofuel production system. A tremendous increase in demand for cellulosic-based second-generation biofuels has the potential to induce widespread changes in crop production practices. While these second-generation systems accommodate the food vs. fuel debate, the removal of plant residues for biofuel has elevated concerns over possible unintended impacts on soil and long-term production capability. In this talk I will describe a number of recent projects that pose questions about how agriculture influences soil, soil microbiology, and landscape processes. Specifically, I will detail work from the Purdue Water Quality Field Station (WQFS), where we have carried out comparative assessments in soil and water quality measures as they relate to crop production, with an intensive effort to understand the impacts of shifting to cellulosic biofuels production. I will also touch on work addressing the overall impact agriculture on tile and surface water quality and suggest tools and practices to reduce potential impacts.

Dr. Ronald F. Turco is a professor in the Department of Agronomy at Purdue University and director of the Purdue Water Community. His research is concentrated on understanding how the behavior of microorganisms can influence natural systems. In particular, his group has used enzyme activity, phospholipid analysis, respiration, and now molecular techniques to understand community structure and function as impacted by management and the introduction of natural and anthropogenic materials to soil. His group has looked at the biodegradation of organic pollutants, kinetics of microbial processes in soil and the microbial ecology of agro-ecosystems. Dr. Turco graduated with a Ph.D. from Washington State University in 1985 and has spent his entire career at Purdue University. 

NOTE: Community colloquia are generally talks of broad interest geared toward a diverse, sophisticated audience. Their purpose is not only to enhance knowledge and understanding, but also to bring people together and promote interaction that will strengthen the community.


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