Soil function, ecosystem services and the Sustainable Development Goals agenda

As an integral part of terrestrial ecosystems, soils play a crucial role in the provision of numerous ecosystem services. Soil ecosystem services are vital components to all aspects of life and support the production of ecosystem goods and services, such as food and fiber production, water storage and climate and natural hazards regulation, among many others. The provision of soil ecosystem services relies on soil characteristics, processes and functions. Moreover, healthy and diverse soils ensure biodiversity among soil biota (soil biodiversity), which in turn guarantees the provision of soil ecosystem services. Incorrect land uses such as intense land management may critically reduce the ecosystem services provided by soils and result in land degradation through erosion, sealing or pollution processes. Sustainable land management and the conservation and restoration of degraded ecosystems is therefore key to maintain functional soils that can provide multiple ecosystem services. By 2030, the Agenda for Sustainable Development – the 17 ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ – are intended to be achieved. The role of soil science, and the work between soil scientists and other disciplines, will be paramount over the coming decade. In particular, healthy and sustainable soil management plans will need to ensure that soils continue to deliver services to ecosystems, societies, and economies. Global climate change and the burgeoning demands from a growing world population are set to place escalating pressures on soils, suggesting an urgent need to build resilience into soil management whilst also reversing current global trends of soil degradation.
In this session, we welcome contributions covering inter and transdisciplinary research through observational, theoretical and applied studies, on soil ecosystem services and soil function in the context of a changing global environment. Topics of interest are (although not limited to): 1) Impacts of soil degradation on soil function and ecosystem services, 2) Soil conservation and restoration actions for maintaining ecosystem services (including research, management, education and policy), 3) Linking soil ecosystem services and soil function in the context of the SDGs.

This session is supported by the project A09.3.3-LMT-K-712-01-0104 Lithuanian National Ecosystem Services Assessment and Mapping (LINESAM) is funded by the European Social Fund according to the activity “Improvement of researchers” qualification by implementing world-class R&D projects.

Co-organized by EOS8/BG3
Convener: Paulo Pereira | Co-conveners: Miriam Muñoz-Rojas, Yang YuECSECS, Wenwu Zhao, Daniel EvansECSECS, Victoria Janes-BassettECSECS
vPICO presentations
| Fri, 30 Apr, 09:00–10:30 (CEST)

vPICO presentations: Fri, 30 Apr

Chairpersons: Miriam Muñoz-Rojas, Wenwu Zhao, Yang Yu
Soil function and ecosystem services
Laure Steenaerts, Miguel Portillo-Estrada, Monique Carnol, Bernard Bosman, Nesrin Hasanova, Francois Rineau, Eric Struyf, and Ivan Janssens

Increasing urbanization brings along problems such as elevated CO2 emissions, eutrophication, air and water pollution, floods, rising temperature and a decrease in biodiversity. Urban green infrastructures, such as green roofs, have the potential to help mitigate those by using the properties of natural ecosystems and the services they provide in a “engineered” way. Green roofs can for example act as buffers and filters for carbon (C), nutrients, such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), and water. Hereby improving CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere by capturing it in plant biomass and improving eutrophication by retaining some dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and mineral N and P in the substrate.

In this research we determine which green roof properties affect the C, N and P cycle in a beneficial way. Therefore, we investigate the influence of different parameters (i.e. roof age, roof size, vegetation type (Sedum and herbs vs. Sedum-only), fertilization, substrate depth, substrate water content, substrate bulk density, substrate pH, plant biomass, plant C/N ratio, N mineralization and nitrification) on the C and nutrient stocks of green roofs. We hypothesize that vegetation type and roof age will be the main factors influencing the C and nutrient stocks. A roof with Sedum and herbs will have a higher nutrient and C input resulting in higher stocks compared to a Sedum-only roof because herbs have a higher turn-over rate compared to Sedum-species. Furthermore, older roofs will stock more C. In the beginning C will be mainly sequestered in plant biomass until the roof is densely covered. Here after, green roofs will be able to build up an organic matter layer if the net primary production exceeds decomposition.

To assess the influence of these parameters on the C, N and P stocks, twelve extensive green roofs were investigated in Belgium. The substrate and vegetation of every roof was sampled at four timepoints (spring, summer and autumn of 2019, winter 2020). Substrate samples were analyzed for stocks (total C, total N, total P) along with other abiotic soil parameters as well as some key soil processes (N mineralization and relative nitrification) for soil fertility.

Our first findings show, as expected, that roofs with Sedum and herbs have an increased total C, N and P in their substrate. In addition, C and P stocks are significantly influenced by roof age: while P stocks slightly decrease over time, C stocks only increased transiently —against our predictions—, with a peak at around 9 years old.

How to cite: Steenaerts, L., Portillo-Estrada, M., Carnol, M., Bosman, B., Hasanova, N., Rineau, F., Struyf, E., and Janssens, I.: Parameters influencing green roof carbon and nutrient stocks, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9560,, 2021.

Ting Hua, Wenwu Zhao, and Paulo Pereira

        Global warming has imposed a positive or adverse impact on ecosystem services and it will be further amplified in vulnerable areas like Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. However, there is a limited understanding of spatial interaction among ecosystem services and their climatic drivers at a fine resolution, regardless of the historical or future periods. This study attempted to fill this gap by detecting sensitivity and exposure of ecosystem services to climate change based on spatial moving window method, combined with Modis-based satellite datasets and various future scenarios dataset. We found that Carbon Sequence and Oxygen Production (CSOP) and habitat quality experienced significant growth, while water retention (WR) showed a fluctuation trend on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. For CSOP, 56.94% of the pixels showed a positive sensitivity to climate change, which is nearly twice the ones with negative sensitivity (26.72%). And there is an evident positive sensitivity between WR and precipitation. Also, there is substantial spatial heterogeneity in the exposure of ecosystem services to future climate changes. A high-emission pathway (SSP5-8.5) increases the intensity of exposure on ecosystem services than low-emission pathway, and disturbances accompanied by future climate change at specific elevation intervals should not be ignored. Identifying spatial association among the ecosystem services and climatic drivers is helpful for targeted management and sustainable development of soil in the context of global warming.


Ecosystem services, Climate change, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Sensitivity, Exposure

How to cite: Hua, T., Zhao, W., and Pereira, P.: Quantifying sensitivity and exposure of multiple ecosystem services to climate change: A case study of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12215,, 2021.

Lisa Maggioli, Maria Lopez Rodriguez, Sonia Chamizo, Yolanda Cantón, and Emilio Rodriguez-Caballero

Biocrusts play a key role in maintaining drylands ecosystems at the global scale. These keystone communities face important human[ERC1]  threats (e.g. climate change) that can result in both biocrust coverage loss and community composition changes and are expected to negatively affect soil biodiversity, and the functioning and resilience of drylands ecosystems. In this adverse scenario, there is an urgent need to develop legal science-based frameworks that underpin their protection. The social-ecological approach, as a research framing oriented to produce scientific knowledge able to properly inform policy actions and management practices, can help us to advance in this direction. By reviewing literature in Spanish biocrusts from the social–ecological approach, here we found that the ecological scope

of biocrust has been widely studied in the last decades; however, the social dimension of their role remained unexplored. In addition, we identified knowledge gaps and new research areas that need to be addressed in order to (1) produce research that better informs policy and society about the role of these keystone communities, and (2) promote the best available evidence on the biocrusts role which can be used to support conservation actions. On this basis, we call for a transition from an “ecological research perspective” to a “social–ecological research perspective” into the biocrust area in order to promote evidence-based conservation practices that contribute to the preservation of these representative communities of drylands all over the world.

How to cite: Maggioli, L., Lopez Rodriguez, M., Chamizo, S., Cantón, Y., and Rodriguez-Caballero, E.: Applying the socio-ecological approach to biocrust research: a call for scientific action, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16195,, 2021.

Sofia Biffi, Pippa j Chapman, Richard P Grayson, and Guy Ziv

Hedgerows can provide a wide range of regulatory ecosystem services within improved grassland landscapes, such as soil function improvement, soil erosion reduction, biodiversity, water quality, and flood prevention and mitigation. Because of their beneficial effects, farmers are incentivised to retain their hedgerows and the planting of hedges has been encouraged in agri-environment schemes in Europe. Today, hedgerow planting it is one of the most popular practices adopted in the Countryside and Environmental Stewardships in England. The role of hedgerows in climate change mitigation has been increasingly recognized over the past decade, however, while other services have been more widely studies, less is known about hedges soil organic carbon (SOC) storage capacity. The Resilient Dairy Landscapes project aims at identifying strategies to reconcile dairy systems productivity and environment in the face of climate change, and with the Committee on Climate Change calling for a 30% - 40% increase in hedgerow length by 2050 in the UK, it is important to determine the role of hedgerows in meeting Net Zero targets. In this study, we estimate the extent of SOC stock beneath hedges and how it may vary with depth, hedge management and age, as well as how it may compare to SOC stock in adjacent agricultural fields. Thus, we measured SOC under 2-4 years old, 10 years old, 37 years old, and 40+ years old hedgerows at 10 cm intervals up to 50 cm of depth under 32 hedges located on dairy farms in Cumbria, UK. We found that the time since planting and the depth of samples play a crucial role in the amount of SOC stock stored underneath hedgerows when accounting for differences in soil type. Our results contribute measurable outcomes towards the estimate of targets for Net Zero 2050 and the extent of ecosystem services provision by hedgerow planting in agricultural landscapes.  

How to cite: Biffi, S., Chapman, P. J., Grayson, R. P., and Ziv, G.: The impact of hedges maturation on soil organic carbon stocks in agricultural landscapes, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15091,, 2021.

Nicolas L. Breil, Thierry Lamaze, Vincent Bustillo, Benoit Coudert, Solen Queguiner, Nicole Claverie, and Nathalie Jarosz-Pellé

Soil plays a major role on carbon cycle, through both carbon stock which is one of the most important carbon terrestrial pool and soil CO2 efflux which represents one of the largest amounts of natural carbon emissions. It is known that soil respiration, through roots respiration and carbon mineralisation by microorganisms, is mainly controlled by temperature and humidity but the impact of crop management practices still needs to be investigated. Previous studies have demonstrated that crop management and more particularly reduced or no-tillage (NT) as well as cover-crops (CC) play a key role to mitigate soil respiration and increase soil organic carbon (SOC) content, but the impacts of the synergy of these practices are still unclear. Our study aims at better understanding the effect of sustainable agriculture through agroecological crop management practices on soil carbon dynamics.

Soil respiration was measured in south-west of France on two distinct sites, CAS in 2018 and ABA in 2019, characterized by different initial soil carbon content, 106.9 % higher in CAS than in ABA. Each site included two joint maize fields using agroecological (NT and CC, named Agroeco) and conventional (tillage and bare soil, named Conv) practises. Agroeco have been settled for 12 and 19 years at CAS and ABA, respectively, at the time of experiment. Soil respiration chamber as well as temperature and moisture sensors were used to collect data twice a month, while pedoclimatic variables were monitored continuously on each field. Soil samples were collected in the fields before the experiment to define SOC and nutrient content as well as physical properties, through the entire soil profile.

Mean soil respiration rate was higher on ABA-Agroeco (0.86 g CO2 m-² h-1) than on ABA-Conv (0.50 g CO2 m-² h-1) and was significantly correlated with soil temperature and humidity at Conv and only with soil temperature at Agroeco. Similar relations were found at CAS but with lower soil respiration rates. SOC concentration for ABA in the top 0-15 cm was higher at Agroeco (13.4 g kg-1) than at Conv (8.0 g kg-1) but little difference was found at CAS where SOC was high. These results suggest that soil respiration rates depend less on soil humidity on Agroeco than on Conv because agroecology management practices both keep more water at the surface and store additional soil organic carbon in soils, inducing more activity through the carbon cycle with higher soil respiration rate. For both sites, agroecological practices induced higher SOC content compared to conventional ones, however, only for ABA site, soil respiration was higher for agroecological field while SOC content was higher. This study supports the idea that agroecological management practices can increase carbon cycle activity by increasing soil carbon stocks thus allowing the mitigation of greenhouse gases emissions and climate change, even by increasing soil CO2 efflux.

How to cite: Breil, N. L., Lamaze, T., Bustillo, V., Coudert, B., Queguiner, S., Claverie, N., and Jarosz-Pellé, N.: How does agroecology practices impact soil carbon stock and fluxes in a maize field?, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14949,, 2021.

Samuel Eze, Andrew Dougill, Steven Banwart, Susannah Sallu, Rashid Mgohele, Catherine Senkoro, Harriet Smith, and Hemant Tripathi

Soil health is key to building resilience into agricultural and food systems in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where climate change presents a major challenge and unsustainable land management practices have exacerbated land degradation. A suite of interventions labelled climate-smart agriculture (CSA) such as conservation agriculture (cover cropping, mulching, crop rotation, intercropping, minimum/zero tillage, crop residue management), soil and water conservation (contour planting, terraces and bunds, planting pits, and irrigation) and agroforestry are promoted in SSA to improve soil health but adoption among smallholder farmers remains low. A strong evidence base on the impacts of CSA interventions on soil health in different agro-ecosystems in SSA is lacking. This contributes to weak policies and institutional support as well as conflicting messages that farmers receive about CSA impacts, which limit their adoption and lead to disadoption. Farmers’ knowledge of their soils influences their land management decisions and is an important factor in the uptake of CSA interventions. Using a multi-method approach that combines conventional soil testing and farmers’ visual techniques, we examined the impacts of soil and water conservation techniques on soil health indicators in the East Usambara Mountains of Tanzania. The link between farmers’ soil knowledge and their land management decisions was also explored in a wider review of lessons from the African Highlands. Farmers’ observed changes in selected soil health indicators, which influenced their land management decisions did not always match results of conventional soil testing, highlighting the need for integrating farmers’ observational techniques and conventional soil testing for a more targeted and comprehensive assessment of soil health. A hybrid approach to soil assessment is outlined that could foster greater uptake of sustainable land management practices including CSA by farmers in SSA and should be proactively pursued by soil scientists to ensure that their efforts translate to actions by land managers.

How to cite: Eze, S., Dougill, A., Banwart, S., Sallu, S., Mgohele, R., Senkoro, C., Smith, H., and Tripathi, H.: Improving Soil Health through Climate-smart Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa – The Essential Role of Farmers’ Knowledge, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14250,, 2021.

Antonios Apostolakis, Valentin Klaus, Ingo Schöning, Beate Michalzik, and Marion Schrumpf

Grassland management can influence nitrogen leaching by changing respective inputs (like fertilization) and outputs (e.g. harvest) from the ecosystem but also through changes in plant and microbial communities and their interactions with the soil. Yet the mechanisms of these processes and their importance for nitrate (NO3-) and ammonium (NH4+) are poorly researched. Although temperate grassland management can cause a high leaching risk, studies measuring annual soil nitrogen fluxes and covering a high number of sites are limited. Using a resin method, we measured annual leaching fluxes of NO3-N and NH4-N in 150 grassland sites in three German regions from spring 2018 to spring 2019 at a depth of 10 cm. We used Structural Equation Modeling to identify direct and indirect management effects on nitrogen leaching. Both fertilization and grazing intensities increased NO3-N leaching to almost the same extent. Fertilization intensity increased NO3-N leaching directly and indirectly i) by decreasing the negative effect of plant richness on NO3-N leaching and ii) by increasing the positive effect of legume cover on NO3-N leaching. Similarly, grazing intensity increased NO3-N directly and indirectly i) by increasing the positive effect of legume cover on NO3-N leaching and ii) by decreasing the negative effect of grass cover on NO3-N leaching. Microbial biomass (nitrogen) increased NO3-N leaching and it was not controlled by management. Fertilization strongly increased NH4-N leaching, both by a direct effect and indirectly by increasing the positive effect of plant nitrogen on NH4-N. Grazing intensity and plant richness had no direct effects on NH4-N leaching. We have shown that grassland management considerably influences inorganic nitrogen leaching in the annual basis, and that fertilization intensity is more important than grazing, especially for NH4-N leaching. Moreover, we found that plant diversity decreases NO3-N leaching, but this effect is controlled by fertilization leading to increased leaching risks. Thus, reducing the management intensity, both in meadows and pastures, can be used as a mitigation tool for inorganic nitrogen leaching.

How to cite: Apostolakis, A., Klaus, V., Schöning, I., Michalzik, B., and Schrumpf, M.: Management effects on nitrate and ammonium leaching in temperate grasslands, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5979,, 2021.

Viacheslav Vasenev, Marina Slukovskaya, Marya Korneykova, Natalya Saltan, Sergey Gorbov, Kristina Ivashchenko, Dmitrii Sarzhanov, and Andrei Stepanov

The contribution of constructed Technosols to the C balance is still poorly understood since high C stocks in topsoil and biomass coincide with intensive CO2 emissions. Moreover, geographical location can have an impact on C stocks and fluxes from Technosols, distinguishing hydrothermal regimes and specific substrates used for Technosols constructions in different regions. This study aims to study C stocks and fluxes in urban lawns on Technosols constructed in three cities in European Russia, following the bioclimatic gradient: Apatity (subarctic climate, north taiga) – Moscow (temperate climate, south taiga and mixed forests) – Rostov-on-Don (semi-arid climate, dry steppes). In each city, Technosols were constructed on summer 2020 to investigate dynamics in C stocks and fluxes at the very early stages after development, when the ecosystems are the most unstable. Both universal (constructed from similar materials and following the same technology) and regional-specific (different in substrates and the sequence of layers) Technosols were observed from September 2020 to April 2021. Soil C stocks were measured in the initial substrates (prior constructing) as well as in constructed Technosols after 2 months after construction. Dynamics in aboveground biomass was measured during the second half of the 2020 growing season (which duration differed between the regions considerably) and the length of the roots was measured at each of the cities once at the end of the 2020 growing season. Dynamics of CO2 was monitored by IRGA once in two weeks during the growing season and once a month during the winter period (in Moscow the chamber approach with GC ending was used instead of IRGA in winter, whereas in Apatity both approaches were measured in parallel). Continuous measurements of the soil temperature were performed by iButtons with a 6-hour frequency.

The average air temperature in Rostov-on-Don was 4ºC higher than in Moscow and more than 10ºC higher than in Apatity, which generally follows the multiannual trends. The similar patterns were observed for the topsoil temperatures however the dynamics was smoother, especially in subsoil during the wintertime. The average CO2 emission were in good coherence with soil temperatures: 0.25, 0.15 and 0.07 gC m-2 hour-1 were obtained in Rostov-on-Don, Moscow and Apatity respectively. Although the full seasonal biomass observation was not complete, preliminary the highest aboveground biomass was obtained in Apatity and the highest root biomass – in Rostov-on-Don. Overall lawn quality estimated based on the projected cover and shoot density was high and confirms that high-quality lawns can be grown almost regardless the bioclimatic conditions.

Acknowledgements The experimental research of C stocks and fluxes was performed with the support of Russian Science Foundation project № 17-77-20046. The climatic monitoring was carried out with the support of Russian Foundation for Basic Research project № 19-29-05187.



How to cite: Vasenev, V., Slukovskaya, M., Korneykova, M., Saltan, N., Gorbov, S., Ivashchenko, K., Sarzhanov, D., and Stepanov, A.: Short-term dynamics of C stocks and fluxes in constructed Technosols under green lawns along the bioclimatic gradient, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9046,, 2021.

Samantha Richardson, Samira Al Hinai, Jesse Gitaka, Will Mayes, Mark Lorch, and Nicole Pamme

Routine monitoring of available soil nutrients is required to better manage agricultural land1, especially in many lower and middle income countries (LMICs). Analysis often still relies on laboratory-based equipment, meaning regular monitoring is challenging.2 The limited number of in situ sensors that exist are expensive or have complex workflows, thus are not suitable in LMICs, where the need is greatest.3 We aim to develop a simple-to-use, low-cost analysis system that enable farmers to directly monitor available nutrients and pH on-site, thus making informed decisions about when and where to apply fertilisers.

We combine nutrient extraction via a cafetiere-based filtration system with nutrient readout on a paper microfluidic analysis device (PAD) employing colour producing reactions that can be captured via a smartphone camera through an app. Image analysis of colour intensity permits quantitation of analytes. We initially focus on key nutrients (phosphate, nitrate) and pH analysis.

For extraction of phosphate, we mixed soil and water in the cafetiere and quantified the extracted phosphate via phosphomolybdenum blue chemistry. For example, for 5 g of soil, a water volume of about 160 mL led to optimum extraction. Active mixing, by pushing coffee filter plunger up and down, aided extraction. A mixing period of 3 min yielded maximum extraction; this time period was deemed suitable for an on-site workflow.

Following nutrient extraction, a simple-to-use readout system is required. For this, we developed colourimetric paper-based microfluidic devices; these are simply dipped into the decanted soil supernatant from the cafetiere and wick fluids based on capillary forces. Chemical reagents are pre-stored in reaction zones, created by patterning cellulose with wax barriers. Our devices contain multiple paper layers with different reagents; these are folded, laminated and holes cut for sample entry. Following the required incubation time, the developed colour is captured using a smartphone. This constitutes a portable detector, already available to envisaged end users, even in LMICs. We have previously developed an on-paper reaction for monitoring phosphates in fresh water in the mg L-1 working range, with readout after an incubation period of 3 min. This method was adapted here to enable storage at ambient temperatures up to 1 week by incorporating additional acidic reagents. Further pad devices were developed in our group for colour-based readout of nitrate, involving a two-step reaction chemistry. Within a relatively short incubation period (≤8 min) a pink coloured was formed following reduction of nitrate to nitrite with zinc and subsequent reaction to form an azo-dye. This system achieved detection in the low mg L-1 range. Moreover, a pad to monitor pH was developed, employing chlorophenol red indicator, with linear response achieved over the relevant pH 5-7 range.  

Our analysis workflow combines a simple-to-use cafetiere-based extraction method with paper microfluidic colour readout and smart-phone detector. This has the potential to enable farmers to monitor nutrients in soils on-site. Future work will aim at integrating multiple analytes into a single analysis card and to automate image analysis.

[1] Europ. J. Agronomy, 55, 42–52, 2014.

[2] Nutr. Cycling Agroecosyst., 109, 77-102, 2017.

[3] Sens Actuators B, 30, 126855, 2019.

How to cite: Richardson, S., Al Hinai, S., Gitaka, J., Mayes, W., Lorch, M., and Pamme, N.: Monitoring soil nutrients using a simple cafetiere-based extraction with paper-based readout. , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7716,, 2021.

Michiel Maertens, Veerle Vanacker, Gabriëlle De Lannoy, Frederike Vincent, Raul Giménez, and Ignacio Gasparri

The South-American Dry Chaco is a unique ecoregion as it is one of the largest sedimentary plains in the world hosting the planet’s largest dry forest. The 787.000 km² region covers parts of Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia and is characterized by a negative climatic water balance as a consequence of limited rainfall inputs (800 mm/year) and high temperatures (21°C). In combination with the region’s extreme flat topography (slopes < 0.1%) and shallow groundwater tables, saline soils are expected in substantial parts of the region. In addition, it is expected that large-scale deforestation processes disrupt the hydrological cycle resulting in rising groundwater tables and further increase the risk for soil salinization.

In this study, we identified the regional-scale patterns of subsurface soil salinity in the Dry Chaco.  Field data were obtained during a two-month field campaign in the dry season of 2019. A total of 492 surface- and 142 subsurface-samples were collected along East-West transects to determine soil electric conductivity, pH, bulk density and humidity. Spatial regression techniques were used to reveal the topographic and ecohydrological variables that are associated with subsurface soil salinity over the Dry Chaco. The hydrological information was obtained from a state-of-the-art land surface model with an improved set of satellite-derived vegetation and land cover parameters.

In the presentation, we will present a subsurface soil salinity map for a part of the Argentinean Dry Chaco and provide relevant insights into the driving mechanisms behind it.

How to cite: Maertens, M., Vanacker, V., De Lannoy, G., Vincent, F., Giménez, R., and Gasparri, I.: Revealing the spatial pattern of subsurface soil salinity over the Argentinean Dry Chaco, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10157,, 2021.

Caley Gasch, Jason Harmon, Thomas DeSutter, Samiran Banerjee, Brian Darby, and Mario Tenuta

Soils in the Northern Great Plains of North America can host high salt concentrations, resulting from geologic origin, and strongly tied to landscape climate and hydrology patterns. Salt concentrations in topsoil can be elevated with intensive management for row crop production. We know that high salt concentrations in topsoil directly impact plant productivity and crop yield; however, our investigations indicate that belowground communities and processes do not necessarily align with patterns of plant productivity. Multiple years of field surveys have revealed that communities and functions of saline soils are distinctly different than non-saline soils. As expected, soils within saline patches tend to have reduced structural development, higher water content, lower surface residues and organic matter incorporation, and elevated soil nutrient concentrations. Thus, the habitat for soil organisms is physically and chemically different than nearby non-saline soils. We have observed that these habitat changes are associated with shifts in soil biological communities (microbial groups, nematodes, arthropods, and earthworms) and their activities (greenhouse gas production and decomposition) in unexpected ways. While total microorganism abundance is fairly stable across the saline and non-saline soils, arthropod, nematode, and earthworm counts are reduced in saline soils. Due to the abundance of microbes, soil water, and labile nutrients in saline soils, we observed elevated greenhouse gas emissions in saline soils. Decomposition rates are stable across salinity levels, providing further evidence that saline soils are microbiologically active despite a paucity of plant production. Given that soil salinity occurs within a suite of soil conditions that influence soil functions, and that these shifts happen over short distances, salinity appears to be an important driver of spatial heterogeneity in soil properties. These observations have implications for intensive, targeted management for mitigating the agroecosystem impacts of salts.

How to cite: Gasch, C., Harmon, J., DeSutter, T., Banerjee, S., Darby, B., and Tenuta, M.: Soil salinity initiates a cascade of changes in soil biological communities and activities, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1437,, 2021.

Xiao Zhang, Wenwu Zhao, Lixin Wang, and Paulo Pereira

The soil available water content (AWC) has a strong ability to indicate the soil water conditions under different land cover types. Although the AWC has long been calculated, soil water characteristic curve estimation models and the distribution of AWC, as well as the impact factors, have rarely been evaluated in the Loess Plateau of China. In this study, four typical land cover types were selected: introduced shrubland, introduced grassland, natural restored shrubland and natural restored grassland. Four widely used models were compared with the van Genuchten (VG) model, including the Arya and Paris (AP) model, Mohammadi and Vanclooster (MV) model, Tyler and Wheatcraft (TW) model, and linear fitting (LF) model to estimate the wilting point. The distribution of AWC and the relationships with environmental factors were measured and analyzed. The results showed the following: (1) the MV model was the most suitable model to estimate the soil water characteristic curve in the Loess Plateau; (2) the factors impacting the AWC varied under different precipitation gradients, and the area with a mean annual precipitation of 440-510 mm was the most sensitive zone to environmental and vegetation factors; and (3) the soil water deficit was more severe when considering AWC than when considering soil water content (SWC), and the water deficits were different under introduced grassland and introduced shrubland. Consequently, the construction of vegetation restoration should be more cautious and consider the trade-off between soil conservation and water conservation. During restoration, policy makers should focus on the AWC in addition to the SWC to better assess the soil moisture status.        

How to cite: Zhang, X., Zhao, W., Wang, L., and Pereira, P.: Aggravated water deficit in the Loess Plateau of China as indicated by the soil available water content, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13790,, 2021.

Yanzhen Hou and Wenwu Zhao

Qinghai is a pivotal area for protection and ecological restoration, which is a unique plateau ecosystem composed of tundra, grasslands, Gobi, and the source of rivers. In response to afforestation projects, the government has successfully implemented the Sloping Land Conversion Program (SLCP), Natural Forest Conservation Program (NFCP), and Three-North Shelter Forest Program (TNSFP), etc. However, the ecological benefits after the implementation of the restoration project lack quantitative evaluation. In this study, we extracted farmland (slope> 25°) and wasteland as appropriate afforestation areas based on the ecological niche of tree species simulated by MaxEnt. Then, ecosystem services are selected as indicators to measure the benefits of restoration, with supply services and recreation services as direct benefits, and regulating services and supporting services as indirect benefits. We compared the impact of afforestation on ecosystem services, highlighting the benefits of ecological engineering. Under the assumption that all afforestation tree species survive, the appropriate afforestation areas are 549.25hm2, mainly distributed in the northeast of Qinghai. Regulating services, supporting services and the attractiveness of recreation services have improved, while crop supply and the accessibility of recreation services have decreased. Our findings can enrich theoretical and empirical research on ecosystem services and have implications for afforestation management in similar areas.

How to cite: Hou, Y. and Zhao, W.: Afforestation projects in Qinghai Province: what are the benefits of ecosystem services?, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-11798,, 2021.

Hengshuo Zhang, Yang Yu, and Tonggang Zha

Alpine mountain ecosystem shows strong interactions between abiotic and biotic parameters. They also received high attention from human activities. Considering coming international events such as the Winter Olympic Games (WOG) and its human impacts, foreseeing uncontrolled ecosystem changes is key. In this research, the vegetation communities distribution under different conditions were modeled in the Yin Mountains in Chongli Country (China), the core area of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Firstly, we surveyed the key factors limiting the vegetation communities development to guide the vegetation restoration after major events in this region. After that, the vegetation succession stage was assessed using the Two-way indicator species analysis (TWINSPAN) and market basket analysis (MBA) to classify the vegetation communities. Plant community and relationships among environmental variables were investigated through the trend correspondence (DCA) and canonical correspondence analyses (CCA). The results show that soil moisture and organic matter could be considered the main factors limiting the development of shrub and herb communities. The distribution of different forest communities was mainly affected by geomorphological factors such as slope positions, aspect and inclination. In middle and high altitude areas, apart of arbor and shrub communities generally showed the process of transformation from the pioneer community to transitional community in the competition. We conclude that providing the basis to understand the environmental factors that restrict the development of vegetation communities in the northern Yin Mountains was helpful to foresee uncontrolled and coming impacts after the WOG.

How to cite: Zhang, H., Yu, Y., and Zha, T.: Assessing succession stages and community distribution characteristics on mountainous ecosystem hosting coming winter Olympics games, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9058,, 2021.

Bogang Dong and Yang Yu

Climate change is leading to significant changes in the intensity and frequency of drought events, and the key processes of terrestrial ecosystems are directly affected by the uncertainty of extreme climate events. In 2009-2010, Southwest China suffered a once-in-a-hundred-years extreme drought, but the response of vegetation to this drought event on a long-term scale is still unclear. Using multi-year moderate resolution imaging spectrometer (MODIS) normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data and meteorological data, the duration of legacy effect of 2009-2010 extreme drought in Yunnan Province were studied and the response difference of diverse vegetation types were analyzed. The results showed that 1)The inhibition of vegetation growth occurred about 2 years in Yunnan Province after the extreme drought event, especially in areas where precipitation experienced a severe reduction. 2)The most sensitive area of vegetation response to drought events is around 2000 m above sea level, and the vegetation growth above 4000m is almost unaffected. 3)Compared with grassland and farmland, the inhibition of forest vegetation is stronger. This research revealed the negative impact of extreme drought on the growth of vegetation in Yunnan Province and provided a theoretical basis for coping with extreme drought and restoring vegetation effectively in the future.

How to cite: Dong, B. and Yu, Y.: Drought legacy effects on vegetation growth in Yunnan Province, China, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9068,, 2021.

Sustainable Development Goals agenda
Eric C. Brevik, Lorna Dawson, and Laura Bertha Reyes Sanchez

Gender equity is a concern in many scientific fields, including soil science. Lower percentages of women work as soil scientists than we have in the general population; fewer opportunities to serve on committees or as invited speakers at scientific meetings; lower selection rates for scientific awards; unconscious bias; tension with work-life balance; poor funding and pay; lack of career progression and a lack of networking opportunities. Advances have been made in many countries, although major discrepancies still exist and women are overall still a minority in soil science and related fields.

A review of international gender equity issues in soil science was undertaken by requesting gender data from 70 national soil science societies around the world; forty-three societies responded. Female members ranged from 0% to 69%. Thirty-six of the 43 societies had more male than female members; the global average was 68% male and 32% female. Some societies noted that women make up a majority of the younger soil science generation or women make up a larger percentage of the younger membership than of the total membership in their society. These findings indicate there is some progress in gender equity in these countries. However, higher numbers of women do not always mean the reasons for those higher numbers are positive. For example, the Bulgarian Soil Science Society mentioned that women were a majority of their soil scientists because soil science did not pay well and men would not take such a low-paying job. Twenty percent of the national soil science societies belonging to the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) have a woman as their president. However, this is lower than the average female membership (32%) in these societies. This is an indication that women are underrepresented in leadership roles.

A rethinking of gender equity is needed to create a new paradigm that allows us:

1. To create an inclusive perspective that encourages respect, collaboration and solidarity between the genders. An education based on the full understanding that “equality does not mean that women and men will become the same but that women’s and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female.”

2. An education that recognizes that soil is not only a natural resource, but also provides social, economic, cultural, political and patrimonial good. The soil not only allows humans to live on it, it supplies food, water and a legitimate sustenance to overcome poverty and to construct an identity, cultural and economic independence.

Therefore, legitimate land ownership is a key element in achieving gender equality for the construction of a just and equitable life, but also the only real way to end all forms of discrimination against women and girls. To improve equity in the sciences, including soil science, we need to educate in a way that changes the gender stereotypes that link science to stereotypes about masculinity. There is no equality without economic independence, and there is no economic independence without equal access to land ownership and land care.

How to cite: Brevik, E. C., Dawson, L., and Reyes Sanchez, L. B.: International Gender Equity in Soil Science: A Social Equity Issue, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-17,, 2020.

Malika Mezeli, Daniel Evans, Davey Jones, Olivia Lawrenson, and Philip Haygarth

Soils Training and Research Studentships (STARS) is a NERC and BBSRC funded Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT).  The consortium comprises of four universities and four research institutes from around England, Scotland and Wales who are collaborating to offer training to PhD students in soil science. The program offered forty PhD studentships over four cohorts, which started in 2016 and due to complete in 2022. The ambitious program aimed to address the under representation of soil science and graduates in UK higher education institutes.

The comprehensive CDT supports cross-institute participation which allows a sharing of resources both human and physical promoting a cross-disciplinary research environment. Students have received group training from experts across the respective establishments encouraging inter-institute collaboration and support. Centralised funding has supported a range of outside training from motion graphic skills to clowning in public to genomics and statistics and the production of video media products by students and staff communicating their research and knowledge. In addition, the managerial structure at STARS has allowed for easy access to professional and industry placements for students. By building upon the traditional PhD experience, STARS has been able to facilitate not only quality doctoral research but also graduates with the skill set and networks required by the next generation of soils scientists to help achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Collectively, the STARS consortium has amassed a vast range of soils research, knowledge, skills and training resources. To remain ambitious and forward focused our legacy project will bring together these resources and continue to work to build on the relationships forged under STARS and into the broader soil community.   These resources will be accessible to those outside of STARS and outside of the research community because resources that offer the tools to support healthy soils, clean water, access to healthy food is not our legacy, it is everyone’s.  The legacy we are left with will not only be comprised of our journal publications but our success in sharing our knowledge, translating our findings and being active participants in global dialogues.

How to cite: Mezeli, M., Evans, D., Jones, D., Lawrenson, O., and Haygarth, P.: Soils training and research: Who's legacy?, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16477,, 2021.

Antonio Giandonato Caporale, Marina Ceruso, Luigi Ruggiero, Anna Di Palma, and Paola Adamo

A sustainable management of urban soil is of paramount importance for the modern cities, thus sustainable programs of urban agriculture are strongly supported by policy-makers to preserve urban soil from anthropic degradation, to enhance its ecosystem functions and services and to produce safe and quality food. Although urban agriculture is already a reality in Naples, it is still lacking of a scientific-based approach aiming to: i) characterise pedo-climatic properties, ii) apply site-specific sustainable management practices, iii) enhance urban food quality; iv) address potential contaminants or pathogenic microorganisms threatening food safety. UrbanSoilGreening* project aims to overcome this lack of scientific-knowledge on urban agriculture in the metropolitan area of Naples. Project activities will cover the major issues related to urban agriculture (i.e., soil degradation and contamination, loss of ecosystem functions, food safety). An operative methodology for sustainable management and protection of urban soil will be developed during 2021 in a couple of green spaces in the metropolitan area of Naples potentially exploitable for agricultural purposes, selected on the basis of factors such as proximity to potential sources of contamination. The urban soils will be characterised to assess their physicochemical properties and identify possible contaminants such as potentially toxic elements (PTEs) and hydrocarbons. In the potentially contaminated soils, the bioavailable and bioaccessible fractions of PTEs will be extracted from soil by standardised analytical procedures. In the absence of soil contamination, the green spaces will be still exploited for food production and agricultural purposes. On the other hand, they will be converted into ornamental or spontaneous low-management gardens. The cultivation techniques would address the general interest of preserving the soil and promoting a sustainable management of sites (e.g. organic farming, synergistic techniques, on-site production of high-quality compost to recycle vegetable waste and promote the circular economy, etc.). The cultivation of uncontaminated green spaces will be done in the spring-summer time, selecting food plant species suitable for local urban horticulture. The greening will aim to create areas accessible to local citizens and associations (cooperating actively with project’s team during plant growing season), with a social function as meeting places for the neighbourhood, suitable for hosting social events and activities. Food quality will be evaluated by morphological and quality parameters and chemical analyses. Near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy will be also applied to rapidly assess food quality with minimum sample processing. The possible presence of PTEs and pathogenic microorganisms (e.g., Clostridium, Escherichia, Listeria and Salmonella genera) in food products will be evaluated to establish their chemical and microbiological safety. Major breakthroughs and achievements will be communicated to main stakeholders in education and public outreach activities and scientific events. At the end of project, guidelines for the sustainable management of urban green spaces producing high-quality and safe food crops will be disseminated as electronic document.

* Multidisciplinary study to improve the sustainability of urban soil, to protect its ecosystem functions and services, and to enhance the safety and quality of food from urban agriculture (FRA-202009291319). Programma per il Finanziamento della Ricerca di Ateneo UniNA, call 2020, line A.

How to cite: Caporale, A. G., Ceruso, M., Ruggiero, L., Di Palma, A., and Adamo, P.: Fostering soil sustainability and food safety in urban agricultural areas of Naples, Italy, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5001,, 2021.

Juan Antonio Campos, Jaime Villena, Marta M. Moreno, Jesús D. Peco, Mónica Sánchez-Ormeño, Carmen Moreno, and Pablo Higueras

Understanding the dynamics of plant populations and their relationship with the characteristics of the terrain (slope, texture, etc.) and with particular phenomena (erosion, pollution, environmental constrains, etc.) that could affect them is crucial in order to manage regeneration and rehabilitation projects in degraded lands. In recent years, the emphasis has been placed on the observation and assessment of microtopographic drivers as they lead to large-scale phenomena. All the ecological variables that affect a given area are interconnected and the success in unraveling the ecological patterns of operation relies on making a good characterization of all the parameters involved.

It is especially interesting to study the natural colonization processes that take place in Mediterranean areas with a high degree of seasonality, to whose climatic restrictions, the presence of pollutants and various anthropic actions, can be added. Over these degraded areas, we propose using a new tool, what we have come to call "pictorial transects", that is, one-dimensional artificial transects built from low-scale photographs (2 m2) taken along a line of work (transect) where you can see the points where ecological resources are generated, stored and lost, and their fluctuation throughout time. A derivative of these would be the "green transects" in which the green color has been discriminated using the open software Image I. It is an inexpensive, fast and straightforward pictorial method that can be used to research and monitor the spatial and temporal fluctuation of the potential input of resources (organic matter, water, fine particles, etc.) to the ecosystem.

The information obtained from pictorial transects not only refers to the measurement of the photosynthetic potential per unit area or the location of the critical points (generate, storage or sink of resources) but also makes it possible to monitor the specific composition of the plant cover. For an appropriate use of this methodology, the criteria to determine the direction and length of the different transects must be previously and carefully established according to the objectives proposed in the study. For example: a radial transect in a salty pond will give us information on the changes in the plant cover as we move away from the center and the salinity decreases. In the same pond, a transect parallel to the shore will give us information on those changes that occur in the vegetation that do not depend on the degree of salinity. There are some cases in which this method could be very useful, as in the natural colonization of a degraded mine site or to assess the progression area affected by allochthonous species or weeds in extensive crops.

How to cite: Campos, J. A., Villena, J., Moreno, M. M., Peco, J. D., Sánchez-Ormeño, M., Moreno, C., and Higueras, P.: Landscape analysis through pictorial transects in degraded lands., EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14477,, 2021.