The relation between microbial diversity and soil functions is poorly understood because we cannot measure easily the microbial diversity, even if we can detect unculturable microorganisms by molecular techniques (Nannipieri et al. 2003). In addition, the present assays for measuring microbial functions determine the overall rate of entire metabolic processes, such as respiration, or specific enzyme activities, without identifying the active microbial species involved. The recent advances in RNA extraction from soil might permit us to determine active species in soil (Griffiths et al. 2000; Hurt et al. 2001). Further advances in understanding require us to determine the composition of microbial communities and microbial functions in microhabitats.
Organic management currently provides a clear advantage over conventional farming as a whole with respect to microbial diversity. This review indicates that organic farming has the potential to help in achieving the conservation of soil biodiversity. Despite the pressing need for long-term, system-level studies of the biodiversity response to organic management at the landscape scale, the available evidence indicates that organic farming could play a significant role in increasing biodiversity. At the same time, continued growth in the organic farming sector is dependent on sustained consumer and legislative support, which in turn will depend largely on the outcome of the debate over the balance between environmental benefits and resource performance. Though the continuing debate on the issue of adoption of organic farming has not come out with clear-cut resolution in many parts of the world, the biodiversity aspect in turn soil functions will be on the positive side for the foreseeable future.
Acknowledgements Thanks are to be given to many scientists who have contributed information and help.
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