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Book Review
Sustainable Agriculture Reviews 4: Genetic Engineering, Biofertilisation, Soil Quality and Organic Farming by Eric Lichtfouse (Editor), 2010; 1st edition, Springer-Verlag, (Springer Science + Business Media); Heidelberg, Dordrecht, London & New York; ISBN 978-90-481-8740-9, e-ISBN 978-90-481-8741-6l, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-8741-6l, Hard cover; Hard cover; VI, 414 pp. Price: US $ 239.00

Reviewed by S. K Basu
1*, X. Chen2 and M. Asif3

1University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1K 3M4; 2Yunan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Kunming, Yunan, China 650205; 3University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2P5
*corresponding author:

Springer has once again published another elegant production in its well read series Sustainable Agriculture with a new title “Genetic Engineering, Biofertilisation, Soil Quality and Organic Farming” edited by Eric Lichtfouse. The title of the volume has been quite comprehensive and each of the sub-section included in the broad title in their own merit deserves to be individual volumes by their own rights and complexities. The greatest attribute of this volume has been its wide coverage of bringing distantly related topics together. Both the editor as well as the participating authors has been successful in catering to the needs of thousands of readers who have been long searching for such a comprehensive coverage of topics under a single cover. The authors have taken care in delivering the new approaches in very simple digestible forms. As such we feel comfortable in recommending the volume to both serious researchers as well as enthusiastic readers in different realms of modern sustainable and alternative agricultural practices.

The current is volume is split into 13 well deserved sections:

Chapter 1: Avidin and Plant Biotechnology to Control Pests
Chapter 2: Cover Crops for Sustainable Agrosystems in the Americas
Chapter 3: Cover Crops in Agrosystems: Innovations and Applications
Chapter 4: Improving Bioavailability of Phosphate Rock for Organic Farming
Chapter 5: Mixed Cropping and Suppression of Soil borne Diseases
Chapter 6: Decreasing Nitrate Leaching in Vegetable Crops with Better N Management
Chapter 7: Manure Spills and Remediation Methods to Improve Water Quality
Chapter 8: Cropping Systems Management, Soil Microbial Communities and Soil Biological Fertility
Chapter 9: Cyanobacterial Reclamation of Salt-Affected Soil
Chapter 10: Measuring Environmental Sustainability of Intensive Poultry-Rearing System
Chapter 11: Compost Use in Organic Farming
Chapter 12: Beneficial Microorganisms for Sustainable Agriculture
Chapter 13: Foliar Fertilization for Sustainable Crop Production.

However, it must be mentioned that the chapters could have been much better organized with some logical patterns and arrangements. At present the chapters are assembled at random with no logical/thematic organizations or divisions. Future editions will be better organized in different chapters placed or spaced under the broad headings of the volume. The overall series theme sustainable agriculture has been well captured in this volume; however, to our understanding the inclusion of genetic engineering in the same volume does not justify the broad theme clearly. Majority of the chapters as highlighted above capture glimpses of sustainable agriculture in varied dimension and genetic engineering really does not jive quite well with the remaining chapters. But the broad coverage of such divergent subjects and fields under a single umbrella of sustainable agricultural practices is greatly appreciated. This is possibly for the first time we found genetic engineering shelved together with widely different sustainable approaches like biofertlization and organic farming being placed together. In addition the bulk of the volume deals with sustainable agricultural practices and the focus on genetic engineering rather low. We suggest that in future edition either coverage on genetic engineering should be substantially increased or even best is to remove this from the present volume, if possible.

Each chapter in this volume has been extremely well laid out with detailed description of the methods and approaches as applicable in different facets of modern sustainable agriculture, their implications to current agricultural systems, including the summary of important events, techniques, approaches and methods, challenges and opportunities, future potentials and environmental sustainability from a long term environmental perspective. In addition the inclusion of a wide array of tables, simple charts, graphs, word diagrams, flow charts, diagrams of important plant parts together with simple and smooth flowing language adopted makes each section a delightful reading. The comprehensive list of references at the end of each chapter and a dedicated index at the end of the volume will help serious researchers easy navigation of key terms, concepts, important and original research works and comprehensive reviews listed in this volume. Overall the production has been a delightful and comprehensive package of modern technologies and integrated approaches suitable for environmentally sustainable form of agriculture.

This volume will be extremely useful to individuals with inclination towards Agriculture, Forestry, Botany, Geology, Plant Biology, Crop Production Systems, Agronomy, Soil Science, Geography, Ecology, Ecosystem, Environment, Sustainable Agriculture Systems, Sustainable Production Systems, Integrated Agricultural Systems, Alternative Agriculture, Alternative Farming Practices and Advanced/Modern Agriculture.