EGU2020-10283, updated on 12 Jun 2020
EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

From soil degradation to restoration via soil microorganisms

Oksana Coban1, Gerlinde de Deyn2, and Martine van der Ploeg1
Oksana Coban et al.
  • 1Hydrology & Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands
  • 2Soil Biology Group, Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands

Soil, the living skin of the Earth, provides ecosystem services critical for life: soil acts as a water filter and a growing medium, offers habitat for billions of organisms, and supplies most of the antibiotics. In places, it may take a hundred years to form one cm of soil, but it can be degraded only in a few years or less by a number of natural and anthropogenic factors, including climate change. Presently, one third of all land is degraded to some extent, and fertile soil is lost every year. Droughts are becoming more common, also in humid climates, and the combination of erratic weather patterns with an increased pressure on land by human activities leads to soil degradation. Soil degradation results in a loss of fertile topsoil, thereby altering the soil hydrology completely. As the consequences, soil water holding capacity decreases, hydrophobicity increases, and more runoff is observed, that leads to further soil degradation. Thus, soil hydrology is the key for a healthy functioning topsoil/soil ecosystem. We are in urgent need for novel solutions for improving soil hydraulic properties that will lead to restoration of degraded soils.

In this study we investigate a possibility of restoring degraded soil using microorganisms. The hypothesis is that microorganisms can improve soil hydraulic properties such as infiltration and water retention, and reduce hydrophobicity that will facilitate further ecosystem restoration. Such strategy is based on combining the research fields of microbiology and soil physics that to date have hardly been combined. To test this hypothesis, we have inoculated sandy soil with a bacterium Bacillus mycoides and then measured its hydraulic properties using evaporation and pressure plate methods. We have also made efforts of standardizing this methodology by testing incubation time and inoculum concentrations on the hydraulic properties of the soil. Evaluation of an effect of bacteria addition on the soil water holding capacities and unsaturated water conductivity have been conducted as a comparison between inoculated soil and uninoculated (control). Results of this ongoing study will be presented here.

How to cite: Coban, O., de Deyn, G., and van der Ploeg, M.: From soil degradation to restoration via soil microorganisms, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10283,, 2020


Display file