SSS4.2 | Soil health under global change and human activities
Soil health under global change and human activities
Convener: Nataliya BilyeraECSECS | Co-conveners: Laura Gismero RodríguezECSECS, Sana BoubehzizECSECS, Yakov Kuzyakov, Emmanuel Arthur, Francisco Jesús Moreno RaceroECSECS, Claudio Zaccone
| Thu, 18 Apr, 08:30–12:30 (CEST)
Room -2.31
Posters on site
| Attendance Wed, 17 Apr, 16:15–18:00 (CEST) | Display Wed, 17 Apr, 14:00–18:00
Hall X2
Posters virtual
| Attendance Wed, 17 Apr, 14:00–15:45 (CEST) | Display Wed, 17 Apr, 08:30–18:00
vHall X2
Orals |
Thu, 08:30
Wed, 16:15
Wed, 14:00
Soil health is the capacity of soil to function within ecosystem and land-use boundaries to sustain biological productivity, maintain environmental quality, and increase plant, animal, and human health. In the current context of global change, characterized by the convergence of extreme events and human activities such as intensive fertilization, pesticide application, mismanagement of landfills, nuclear accidents, etc., it is crucial to prioritize soil health. This explains the widespread adoption of sustainable agricultural practices aimed at preserving and/or improving the physical and chemical fertility of the soil. Furthermore, limiting the negative impacts of these practices on soil microbial communities prevents the alteration of the biogeochemical cycles of carbon and nutrients.
We invite field, laboratory and modeling studies on soil health analyzing the effects of human activities on soil organic matter content and composition, microbial functions and enzymatic activities, regulation of nutrient cycles, detoxication of organic pollutants and other relevant indicators. This session considers contributions that examine how soil health influences the delivery of ecosystem services such as provisioning, regulatory, supporting, and cultural services. Contributions covering studies on soil health from a micro to a global scale are highly appreciated.

Orals: Thu, 18 Apr | Room -2.31

Chairpersons: Nataliya Bilyera, Yakov Kuzyakov
On-site presentation
Abad Chabbi

Soil health is pivotal for maintaining environmental sustainability and plays a vital role in supporting diverse ecosystems, agricultural productivity, and overall human well-being. The interplay of climate change and anthropogenic (human-induced) activities can exert substantial influence on soil health, giving rise to a spectrum of challenges. In recent years, a growing body of scientific evidence indicates that climate change will adversely affect soil health. This impact manifests through the decline in soil organic matter, the degradation of soil structure, and an increased vulnerability to erosion and other forms of deterioration. Human activities, particularly pollution and widespread habitat degradation, further exacerbate these effects. Additionally, ongoing misuse of soil contributes to its continued degradation, resulting in adverse consequences such as diminished biodiversity, decreased agronomic productivity, reduced input efficiency, and heightened rural poverty.

Consequently, a paradigm shift is imperative, with a focus on adopting sustainable agricultural systems. This involves a need to restore soil health instead of contributing to its decline, actively mitigating and adapting to climate change rather than exacerbating it, promoting negative emission farming instead of being a source of greenhouse gases and transforming land into a significant carbon sink rather than a source. To deal effectively with the challenge of soil health in the context of climate and human-induced change, it is essential to adopt a global approach. This means integrating sustainable land management practices, formulating effective policies and encouraging global cooperation. These measures are essential to ensure the long-term health and productivity of our soils.

How to cite: Chabbi, A.: Unlocking the crucial interplay between soil health, climate change and global stewardship, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-21813,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Ester Miglio, Fabrizio Albanito, Simone Sala, and Pete Smith

The sampling and analysis or visual examination of soil to assess its health status are widely practiced from plot to national scales. However, available data are often not made easily accessible and new data are not always shared with the wider public, creating a partial understanding of soil processes and health status across different geographies, as well as a misuse of resources.

To address these challenges, Varda has created an interactive digital soil platform, named SoilHive, which provides an overview of existing soil data across the globe, facilitates the identification of soil data gaps across regions, and supports soil data sharing and interoperability.

To facilitate the identification of functional soil data gaps, Varda created a visualization tool to enable users to identify the extent to which the data available in their selected regions of interest allow them to characterize key soil characteristics and functions, starting with soil health. To this end, Varda collaborated with a team at the Aberdeen University to define a minimum set of indicators and associated soil properties, covering diverse soil degradation processes and ecosystem services, to describe soil health at the local level with a focus on agricultural settings. SoilHive users will be able to select a region of interest and verify how many of those indicators are available to characterize soil health: the gap between the available data and the required data will be marked as the "Soil Health Data Gap" and described as the percentage of data over the total number of indicators.

This Soil Health Data Gap could facilitate the identification of those regions where data collection efforts should be intensified, informing the prioritization of actions aimed at bridging existing gaps while expanding the availability of soil data. Several proposed activities to address this gap include targeted soil mining activities to collect historical and non-digitized soil data, advocating for data-sharing collaborations among diverse stakeholders, and organizing brand-new soil sampling campaigns. Moreover, additional soil health definitions could be used to provide the user with different representations of soil health data gaps, in line with these definitions.

Closing the existing Soil Health Data Gaps bears significant importance, as it empowers us to deepen our comprehension of soil health dynamics. By expanding soil data transparency across all sectors and stakeholders, we would gain the ability to make well-informed decisions regarding optimal soil management practices, efficiently allocate resources, and strive to enhance soil health for the betterment of both present and future generations.

How to cite: Miglio, E., Albanito, F., Sala, S., and Smith, P.: Bridging the Soil Health Data Gap: informing prioritization of soil data collection efforts, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-13121,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Tarin Paz-Kagan, Arnon Karnieli, and Yaron Ziv

Mining is crucial in driving economic development but entails extensive environmental damage, such as soil degradation and water and air pollution. Mining activity impacts the soil quality, often making it unable to support ecosystem function and structure and reducing its ecological resilience. Soil degradation reduces physical, chemical, and biological (PBC) soil properties. The current study aims to apply the soil quality index (SQI) to quantify soil restoration success in an open-pit phosphate mine in Israel’s hyper-arid environment. In this regard, we evaluated an ecological restoration practice that includes topsoil refilling compared to the adjacent undisturbed natural system. We used transformed and standardized scorings of 11 PBC soil properties that were further statistically integrated into overall SQI values. Our results revealed significant differences between the restoration practice areas and the nearby natural areas, with a higher soil quality value in the latter. It is proposed that the topsoil restoration method is mainly affected by soil biological indicators, such as soil organic matter, soil proteins, and polysaccharides related to biocrust development, and, to a lesser extent, by physical properties (primarily infiltration rate, followed by available water content). The former properties encourage the biocrust establishment, which is essential for soil surface stabilization. This, in turn, affects the water infiltration, nutrient availability, and erosion rates. The chemical indicators showed no significant differences between most sites for the overall soil quality. In conclusion, our results reflect a slow recovery of the SQI in the restored sites, demonstrating that achieving the quality of the natural areas requires a long-term recovery process. Moreover, the physio-biological indicators were more suitable for reliably estimating mining restoration practices in dryland areas. Our approach could have broader implications for evaluating the ecological restoration success in hyper-arid environments.

How to cite: Paz-Kagan, T., Karnieli, A., and Ziv, Y.: Quantifying Soil Quality in Dryland Regions as A Key Step in Phosphate Mining Restoration, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-4405,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Bahar S. Razavi, Bin Song, Siyi Shang, Feng M. Cai, Zihao Liu, Jie Fang, Na Li, and Jonathan M. Adams

The annual global production of plastics is currently nearly 400 million tons, leading to widespread concern regarding the quantity of degradation-resistant plastics entering terrestrial environments. Farmland soils are a major sink for microplastics (MPs, size <500 μm) owing to the wide use of plastic film mulching. Although the influence of MPs on soil parameters has been investigated, the response of microbiomes to soil microenvironments with contrasting limiting factors, particularly in flooded soil environments such as rice paddies, remains unknown. Using zymography and high-throughput sequencing, we conducted an experiment with polylactide (PLA) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) MPs to compare the effects of biodegradable and conventional MPs on rice growth, exoenzyme kinetics, and microbial communities. Both conventional and biodegradable MPs significantly inhibited rice growth, possibly by affecting nutrition. Compared with the control soils, both PLA- and PVC-amended soils exhibited higher enzyme activity in the hotspots. The enzymatic resistance to MPs was higher in ‘coldpots’ with PVC addition compared to that in PLA and control treatments. 
Bacterial biomass increased but diversity declined in PLA-amended soils, possibly because PLA particles act as carbon input inhabited the population of bacteria. Our findings suggest that co-occurrence networks among bacteria were strengthened by the addition of both MPs, with an increase in microbial functionality resilience and enhanced competition with neighboring roots for nutrient mining. This competition for nutrients may 
adversely affect plant growth. 

How to cite: Razavi, B. S., Song, B., Shang, S., Cai, F. M., Liu, Z., Fang, J., Li, N., and Adams, J. M.: Microbial resistance in rhizosphere hotspots under biodegradable and non-degradable microplastic amendment: Community and functional sensitivity, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-13198,, 2024.

On-site presentation
María Martín Roldán, Doris Vetterlein, Mika Tarkka, and Evgenia Blagodatskaya

The long-term transformation of organic matter in agroecosystems is modulated by soil properties and functional traits of plants and microorganisms, and is an indicator of soil quality. We studied how contrasting soil texture (loamy vs sandy) and two plant genotypes (a wild type, WT and a mutant deficient in root hairs, rth3) altered organic matter through microbial functioning in a field experiment after 5 years of maize monoculture. Our hypotheses were that (1) loamy rather than sandy soil will promote a larger OM storage; and (2) root-hairs, entailing a higher root-soil interface and water retention in the rhizosphere, boosting microbial processes and OM fluxes, will increase OM content not only in the rhizosphere but in the long-term, also in the bulk soil. To address these hypotheses, plots were filled with homogenized soil, being sandy soil a mix of 16.7 % loam with quartz sand, and the two maize genotypes. After 5 years of monoculture, soil was collected at the early maize growth stage of BBCH19, in the first 20 cm and the 20 to 40 cm depths. We determined stoichiometric ratios of total (TOC/TN) and labile (DOC/DON) fractions of soil organic matter, and microbial eco-physiological indexes related to OM transformation and sustainability, i.e. respiration-to-biomass ratio, qCO2, and microbial-to-total organic C ratio, Cmic:Corg.  The 5- and 7-times larger C supply in loamy vs sandy soil, for WT and rth3, respectively was explained by 40% more efficient C metabolism, i.e. less C losses through respiration per biomass unit, by 90% lower specific labile C content (DOC:Cmic ratio) and by 60% faster microbial turnover (µmax-1) in the former. As the TN content was only 3.1 and 4.2 times larger in loamy than sandy soil for WT and rth3 respectively, the resulting C:N ratio was 1.7- times greater for loamy than sandy soil, indicating more unbalanced stoichiometry in the former for both genotypes. Remarkably, the C and N content increased 20 and 36 %, respectively, after 5 years of maize monoculture, in the plots under root hair-deficient mutant than under wild type maize resulting in significantly larger C storage at rth3-plots in loamy soil. This may be explained by the reported higher exudates production by rth3 under the field conditions. Soil depth up to 40 cm did not show big differences in the capacity for C storage, likely due to similar root density in both depths. Concluding, loamy soil showed a higher capacity of C storage through microbial turnover and sandy soil demonstrated larger C losses through DOC compounds and respiration after 5 years of maize monoculture. Finally, carbon availability was not the limiting factor in sandy soil for microbial growth, but rather other factors such as soil water holding capacity, or OM fluxes from rhizosphere to bulk soil.

How to cite: Martín Roldán, M., Vetterlein, D., Tarkka, M., and Blagodatskaya, E.: Stoichiometry of soil organic matter and microbial functional traits altered after 5 years of maize monoculture, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-5424,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Guoting Shen, Andrey Guber, Alexandra Kravchenko, and Evgenia Blagodatskaya

Mechanisms of nitrogen (N) acquisition in the rhizosphere often include microbial immobilization of mineral N and its further transformation into organic compounds. Therefore, visualization and quantification of organic N distribution and their correlation with N-related enzymatic hotspots helps to reveal the role of roots in plant-microbial interplay related to N cycling. In this study, time-lapse leucine aminopeptidase (LAP) zymography and amino-mapping were coupled to reveal amino-N distribution both in the soil and distinct root segments of Zea mays L. A strong overlap between amino-N content and LAP activity in seminal and lateral root tips, as well as seminal roots, highlighted the intricate interplay between plants and microorganisms in N acquisition. Remarkably, we also uncovered a significant decoupling of LAP activity from amino-N in lateral roots and bulk soil. The distinct patterns in different root parts provided a perspective on the major origins of enzyme production in the rhizosphere. Endogenous LAP production by roots and root-associated microbes in seminal roots and root tips contrasted with the reliance on exogenous rhizosphere microorganisms for enzyme activity in lateral roots. This finding not only advances our understanding of N acquisition but also opens up the new avenues for discussion on the ecological roles of different root segments in shaping the rhizosphere environment.

How to cite: Shen, G., Guber, A., Kravchenko, A., and Blagodatskaya, E.: Elucidation of the interplay between roots and microorganisms in the organic N transformation in the rhizosphere of maize, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-3156,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Mehdi Rashtbari, Seyed Sajjad Hosseini, Ahmad Samir Azimi, Markus Schemmel, Zheng Zhou, Lingyue Han, Daguang Cai, and Bahar S. Razavi

Soil microbial communities are the main regulators of ecosystem services and are vital for carbon and nutrient cycling. Root exudates play a crucial role in shaping soil microbial assembly and hence, influencing biogeochemical processes that impact plant growth. Here, we hypothesized that continuous wheat cultivation would lead to lower glucose release, resulting in lower microbial growth, activity, and biomass. For the first time in situ glucose imaging was optimized for studying these interactions in the field - using installed root windows in the first (W1) and third (W3) wheat after break crop plots. Root and leaf samples were collected to determine the expression of sugar transporter genes using transcriptomics. Soil microbial respiration (characterized by Substrate Induced Growth Respiration (SIGR)) and enzyme kinetics (measured by fluorometric microplate assays of 4-methylumbelliferone (MUF) and 7-amino-4-methyl coumarin (AMC)) were measured in rhizosphere, root affected and bulk soil samples to assess C, N, and P acquisition.

W3 had the lowest proportion of hotspots for glucose release with 1.35 % of the total soil surface area, indicating a 17.7 % decline compared to W1. Also, we found that the expressions of functional orthologous genes of SWEET1a in wheat roots were significantly upregulated in W3 compared to W1. Furthermore, total microbial biomass dropped by 11.8 and 4.8 % in W3 in the rhizosphere and bulk soils compared to W1, respectively. The growing microbial biomass in the rhizosphere soil of W1 was about five times higher than W3. For β-glucosidase activity, soil samples from W1 had a higher maximum velocity of enzyme activity (Vmax) compared to W3 samples, in all studied compartments (rhizosphere, root affected and bulk soil samples). Lower glucose release in W3 highlights the importance of root exudates in shaping rhizosphere interactions and microbial community dynamics in response to continuous wheat cultivation. Also, differences in SWEET gene expression in wheat roots and leaves, indicates shifts in nutrient uptake and resource allocation strategies. This decline in glucose release observed under W3 compared to W1 underscores the significance of root exudates in shaping rhizosphere interactions.

Overall, the shift in glucose release is linked to altered root physiology and exudation processes, potentially reflecting the plant's strategy to create a less favorable environment for ambuscade and opportunistic pathogens. Hence, this study provides novel insights into the complex interactions between continuous wheat cultivation, root exudation, microbial dynamics, gene expression, and enzymatic activities.

How to cite: Rashtbari, M., Hosseini, S. S., Azimi, A. S., Schemmel, M., Zhou, Z., Han, L., Cai, D., and Razavi, B. S.: Glucose Release Controlled by Sugar Transporters in Wheat Plant Modulates Microbial Growth and Enzyme Activity Around the Root, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-8602,, 2024.

On-site presentation
William Trenti, Mauro De Feudis, Gloria Falsone, Livia Vittori Antisari, Federico Puliga, Giulia Tabanelli, Alessandra Zambonelli, and Fausto Gardini

Soil is one of the most diverse and complex natural systems at global scale and is involved in several reactions of formation, development, and breakdown of chemicals, many of these depending on soil microorganisms.

According to the combination of soil forming factors, soil properties show a large horizontal and vertical variability, which can have a huge impact on soil microbial communities. However, relatively few investigations have been carried out to associate the changes in soil microbial community with the variations of soil properties across the genetic horizons and along depth.

In Italy, chestnut groves used to be key sources of products in mountain regions. Recent socio-economic changes have led to the progressive abandonment of this land use, producing degradation of the landscape and increased hydrogeologic risk. Now, programs for the restoration of this activity collide with outbreaks of illnesses such as ink disease, which is caused by Oomycetes present in the soil. In this framework, the physicochemical and biological features of soils play a crucial role in the distribution and assessment of the risk and severity of this disease.

The objective of this study was to correlate the diversity and eco-functionality of the microbial communities with soil properties and health indicators along depth and across a transect including chestnut trees with and without symptoms of ink disease.

The study area was a fruit chestnut grove located in the Apennine mountains south of Bologna, Italy. Soil profiles were opened along a transect ranging from a chestnut tree showing ink disease symptoms (INK1) to two subsequent chestnut trees with no visible symptoms (INK2 and INK3). In each profile, the horizons were described and sampled; to assess spatial variability, three minipits were opened around each profile, and their horizons were also described and sampled. Each horizon was also sampled in sterility. The samples were then analyzed for physicochemical and biological parameters, and total DNA was extracted to perform a taxonomic analysis.

Results showed that some physicochemical parameters, while presenting a trend with depth, also presented a trend with distance from the diseased tree: pH and base saturation decreased near this tree, while C:N and C:P increased, as well as water-extractable organic carbon. The taxonomic analysis showed that, while no substantial variation was detected in the bacterial composition of INK2 and INK3, INK1 showed a higher prevalence of phyla involved in the organic matter cycle (Acidobacteriota and Proteobacteria). Regarding the fungal population, in INK2 and INK3 the main trophic group was soil saprotrophs, while in INK1 the most frequent were short- and medium-distance ectomycorrhizae, which often indicate plant stress. Shannon index showed that bacterial diversity increased with depth while fungal diversity decreased. In both cases the profile near the diseased tree presented the least diversity. No difference was detected between the profiles in soil health indicators, such as organic matter content and microbial biomass and its activity, and these were not correlated with microbial diversity. These results suggest that taxonomic analysis of soil microorganisms could integrate traditional indicators in assessing soil and ecosystem health.


How to cite: Trenti, W., De Feudis, M., Falsone, G., Vittori Antisari, L., Puliga, F., Tabanelli, G., Zambonelli, A., and Gardini, F.: Soil health and microbial diversity in fruit chestnut groves affected by ink disease , EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-18278,, 2024.

Coffee break
Chairpersons: Laura Gismero Rodríguez, Francisco Jesús Moreno Racero
On-site presentation
Ferran Romero, Maëva Labouyrie, Alberto Orgiazzi, Cristiano Ballabio, Panos Panagos, Arwyn Jones, Leho Tedersoo, Mohammad Bahram, Carlos Guerra, Nico Eisenhauer, Dongxue Tao, Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo, Pablo García-Palacios, and Marcel van der Heijden

The role of soil health in regulating primary productivity at large scale across different land-use types remains poorly understood. This hinders our ability to predict the impact of soil degradation on essential ecosystem services such as food provision and climate regulation. To address this gap, we conducted a pan-European observational field study using data from 588 sites and 27 countries to investigate the link between soil health (a composite index based on soil properties, biodiversity, and plant disease control) and primary productivity across three major land-use types: woodlands, grasslands, and croplands. We found that soil health in woodlands was 31.4% higher than in grasslands, and 76.1% higher than in croplands. We further observed that soil health was positively linked to cropland and grassland productivity at the continental scale. Woodland productivity was linked to climate conditions rather than to soil health status. We observed that soil organic carbon and the richness of Acidobacteria, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria had a positive effect on primary productivity. Among microbial functional groups, we found that nitrogen-fixing bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi positively related to primary productivity in croplands and grasslands, while plant pathogens showed a negative relationship. Together, our results point to the importance of soil biodiversity and soil health for maintaining primary productivity across contrasting land-use types.

How to cite: Romero, F., Labouyrie, M., Orgiazzi, A., Ballabio, C., Panagos, P., Jones, A., Tedersoo, L., Bahram, M., Guerra, C., Eisenhauer, N., Tao, D., Delgado-Baquerizo, M., García-Palacios, P., and van der Heijden, M.: Soil health increases primary productivity across Europe, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-7955,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Fangjin Xu and Shuangcheng Li

The land use changes and environmental pollution brought by urbanization are important aspects of global change. Cities provide a unique "natural laboratory" for people to understand the impact of human-nature composite ecosystems on global change and their response processes. Unlike natural soils, human activities during urbanization directly or indirectly affect the formation and development of soils. Generally, urban soils have a higher organic carbon content compared to agricultural soils and some natural soils, making them an important carbon reservoir in urban ecosystem carbon cycles. The urban-rural gradient method based on urbanization intensity provides a possibility for studying the response of Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) storage to urbanization on a global scale. Here, we define Urban Intensity (UI) as the proportion of impervious surface area within each 1x1 square kilometer (ranging from 0 to 100%). We first analyzed the trends of SOC storage along the UI gradient globally and in different climate zones, distinguishing the contributions of natural and socio-economic factors through multiple linear regression and residual quantification. The study found that as UI increases, SOC storage undergoes phased changes, with natural and socio-economic factors contributing differently in each urbanization stage and climate zone. For example, globally, when UI is low (UI ≤ 0.25) and high (0.75 < UI ≤ 1), SOC storage tends to decrease with increasing UI, while at medium intensity (0.25 < UI ≤ 0.75), SOC storage shows an increasing trend. Globally, changes in socio-economic factors (population, GDP) are the main drivers of SOC storage changes during urbanization. Particularly at low and medium urbanization intensities, socio-economic contributions reach 98% and 89%, respectively. However, as urbanization intensity increases, the driving role of natural factors becomes more apparent, contributing over 40% in areas of high urbanization intensity.

How to cite: Xu, F. and Li, S.: Trends and drivers of the soil organic carbon stocks along the urban-rural gradients globally, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-4361,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Frédéric Vanwindekens, Brieuc Hardy, Morgan Abras, Simon Sail, and Bruno Huyghebaert

At the heart of agro-ecosystems lie soils, essential components profoundly affected by intensive farming practices and global changes across various regions in Europe. This impact manifests as a loss of biodiversity, a decline in organic matter content, and heightened susceptibility to erosion. Recognizing these challenges, certain farmers are embracing innovative approaches to enhance soil quality, such as conservation farming and organic farming. These two systems differ significantly in their weed management practices, with conservation farming relying on synthetic herbicides and reduced tillage, while organic farming predominantly employs tillage.

To assess soil structural stability, we developed a new measurement protocol, the QuantiSlakeTest. This low-tech method operates on the principle of continuous quantitative measurement, evaluating the disintegration of a soil sample submerged in water. The resulting curves are normalized, and synthetic indicators, including relative weights at stabilization, time to reach maximum relative weight post-immersion, diverse slopes, and area under the curve, facilitate the comparison of various treatments.

Building on previous research demonstrating the relevance of this approach and the influence of tillage on soil structural stability (Vanwindekens & Hardy, 2023), our study employed the QuantiSlakeTest to highlight the annual evolution of soil structure stability over three years following the implementation of an organic cropping system trial in Gembloux (Wallonia, Belgium). Initiated in 2019, the trial involved converting a conventional 6 ha field to a seven-year rotation of organic farming. The three compared cropping systems differed in weed control, fertilization, and tillage practices. Soil samples were collected in early spring of 2020, 2021, and 2022 from various crops in the trial, including winter cereals, spring cereals, legumes, and maize, with cover crops or even uncovered after a winter ploughing.

Our main findings reveal a gradual differentiation of soil structural stability indicators during the first three years of cultivation. Cropping systems based on reduced tillage practices demonstrated a positive impact on soil structural stability, particularly in the third studied year (2022), while reference systems exhibited lower rates. These results confirm previous studies. We also detect a slight positive impact of legumes, cover crops, and/or crop associations, even in the two cropping systems with ploughing (2022). Further analyses, to be conducted over the seven years rotation will shed additional light on the dynamics of soil structural stability.

Frédéric M. Vanwindekens and Brieuc F. Hardy (2023). The QuantiSlakeTest, measuring soil structural stability by dynamic weighing of undisturbed samples immersed in water, SOIL, 9, 573–591,

How to cite: Vanwindekens, F., Hardy, B., Abras, M., Sail, S., and Huyghebaert, B.: Multi-year dynamics of soil structural stability under contrasting farming practices in a belgian organic field experiment, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-20583,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Alexandra Dr. Sandhage-Hofmann, Foerster Mira, Amatotsero Vanessa, Börner Jan, Gebrekidan Bisrat, and Amelung Wulf

A significant portion of smallholder farming systems in Sub-Saharan Africa are marked by significant heterogeneity in both biophysical and socio-economic conditions. Resource access and the patterns of resource allocation at household level are often co-determined by wealth. We hypothesized that wealth plays a pivotal role in the effect of future-oriented farm management on soil organic carbon storage (SOC) and soil quality. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a study involving 42 households categorized in three wealth classes (high, medium, low) based on farm-household survey data from the Namibian Zambezi region. Soil samples were collected up to a depth of 1 m with a focus on soil organic carbon and nitrogen throughout the soil profile. Topsoils were additionally analyzed for texture, cation exchange capacity (CEC), pH, and available phosphorus; field size was measured. A follow-up survey wave captured information on crop species, yield, and soil management practices.

Results of the survey showed, that farmers of our study area typically burn their field regularly before the cultivation period. With rare exceptions no farmer fertilized their fields, neither with mineral fertilizer nor with manure. Results indicated that relatively wealthier farmers had larger fields, yet intriguingly, their yields per hectare were not higher than for farmers in lower wealth terciles. Notably, the Arenosols, which are widespread in the Zambezi region, had lower sand and higher clay and silt contents among the relatively wealthier farmers. Moreover, high wealth class showed significantly higher soil organic carbon and nitrogen concentrations in the topsoils compared to medium and low wealth classes along with CEC values. Though, no such a trend was observed for available phosphorous and pH. The elevated levels of soil organic carbon and nitrogen of relatively wealthy farmers persisted consistently up to a depth of 1 meter. These results indicate that the soils of farmers in the high wealth class have inherently better soil conditions. Contrary to our hypothesis, the wealthier farmers did not seem to invest more in land management in order to improve soil conditions. Instead, historically they seem to have been more inclined to settle on the more fertile soils in the Zambezi region of Namibia and benefit from larger fields and thus higher quality natural resources.

How to cite: Dr. Sandhage-Hofmann, A., Mira, F., Vanessa, A., Jan, B., Bisrat, G., and Wulf, A.: Unraveling the relationship between rural farm household wealth, carbon storage, and soil quality in Namibia's Zambezi Region, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-10503,, 2024.

On-site presentation
José María García de Castro Barragán, Nnyaladzi Batisani, Flora Pule-Meulenberg, Lawrence Akanyang, José María de la Rosa Arranz, M. Rocio Reinoso Limones, and Heike Knicker

Bush encroachment is a form of rangeland degradation. It is characterized by a shift from herbaceous to woody plant dominance, which has reduced indigenous plant and animal biodiversity and it’s a significant problem in southern African savannas, particularly in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Overgrazing by cattle on the one hand and the loss of a large part of large herbivores on the other hand, have been identified as main contributor to imbalance of this delicate ecosystem. The present study aimed to investigate bush encroachment effects on soil organic matter (SOM) in areas of low, medium, and high bush density in a farmed area of the Botswana’s savanna. Bush encroachment is expected to have significant effects on soil properties. It is assumed to decrease soil organic C concentration as well as contents of macro and micro nutrients. To investigate such possible impacts, a sampling was realized during the dry season in various plots with varying encroachment densities (Senegalia mellifera). The analysis included standard soil parameters, (pH, electrical conductivity, cation exchange capacity; elemental composition, and bulk density) the composition of the SOM was characterized by solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The preliminary results of these analysis revealed only small differences between sites with low, medium, and high levels of bush encroachment. This suggests that the impact of bush encroachment on savannah’s SOM is lower than expected and may not be directly related to bush density. Further research will compare the obtained data with data obtained during the wet season to obtain a better understanding of the SOM dynamics and the impact of encroachment on soil degradation.

Acknowledgement: The authors would like to express their gratitude to the European Commission for the financial support of this research within the European Framework Program for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 (Grant No. 101036401).

How to cite: García de Castro Barragán, J. M., Batisani, N., Pule-Meulenberg, F., Akanyang, L., de la Rosa Arranz, J. M., Reinoso Limones, M. R., and Knicker, H.: Relating bush encroachment density of savanna soils in the Kalahari district in Botswana to soil organic matter stocks and quality., EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-588,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Stamatios Thomopoulos, Lars Elsgaard, Lars Juhl Munkholm, and Sabine Ravnskov

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are indicators of soil health and are associated with various soil benefits, primarily linked to glomalin accumulation from hyphal turnover. However, the direct connection between glomalin-related soil protein (GRSP) and AMF has been questioned. In addition, conservation agriculture (CA) stands out as a pivotal plant production system that promotes agricultural sustainability and enhances soil quality.  In particular, the combination of minimal soil disturbance with residue retention has been linked with alterations in microbial biomass. The study aimed to explore the correlation between various fractions of GRSP and fatty acid fractions in the soil, along with examining the long-term impact of conservation agriculture practices on AMF biomass and GRSP content. Findings revealed a positive correlation between easily extractable (EE) GRSP and phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) 16:1ω5, while no significant correlations were found for difficultly extractable (DE) or total GRSP fractions. These results highlight the complexity of GRSP dynamics and the need for further research on different fractions and their relation to AMF biomass. Additionally, the study demonstrated that mechanical soil management had a more significant impact on AMF hyphal biomass and EE-GRSP compared to residue management. Direct seeding, a reduced tillage approach, led to higher hyphal biomass and EE-GRSP, indicating AMF sensitivity to tillage intensity. This suggests that tillage practices exert a more substantial influence on AMF abundance and GRSP content than residue management.

How to cite: Thomopoulos, S., Elsgaard, L., Juhl Munkholm, L., and Ravnskov, S.: Evaluation of the relation between soil biomass of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and glomalin-related soil protein in conservation agriculture, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-8831,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Sadikshya Dangi, Brett Allen, Jay Jabro, Tatyana Rand, Joshua Campbell, and Rosalie Calderon

Soil microbial community composition associated with novel rotation crops could contribute to increased yield to subsequent crops and an important factor influencing the composition of the rhizosphere microbiome. However, the effect of alternative dryland crops on soil microbial community composition is not clear in the northern Great Plains (NGP). The objective of this study therefore was to evaluate the effects of oilseed crops Ethiopian mustard (Brassica carinata A.) or camelina (Camelina sativa L.) or a 10-species forage/cover crop (CC) mix and fallow on soil microorganisms. A field study was conducted from 2014 to 2020 in the northern Great Plains, USA and was designed as a randomized complete block with three replications in a no-tillage system. Results showed that total bacterial proportion was significantly higher in camelina and fallow compared to CC and carinata. Total fungal proportion was significantly higher under CC mix compared to camelina and fallow. Fungal to bacterial ratio was significantly higher in CC and carinata compared to fallow. Fungi are often considered a good indicator of soil health while bacteria are crucial in soil functions. The changes in specific microbial communities due to crop-related alterations might play a key role in the yield of subsequent crop. Mechanisms responsible for these differences will be discussed.

How to cite: Dangi, S., Allen, B., Jabro, J., Rand, T., Campbell, J., and Calderon, R.: Effect of Alternative Dryland Crops on Soil Microbial Communities, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-14456,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Bibiana Betancur Corredor, Andrey Zaitsev, and David Russell

Increased land use intensity, especially the transition from extensive to intensively managed agroecosystems, is frequently referred to as one of the primary causes of the decline in global biodiversity and is thought to be the primary force influencing soil biodiversity. For appropriate land management in the face of future land use change, it is essential to comprehend how soil biodiversity responds to various land use regimes. Still, there is a great deal of uncertainty regarding the consistent responses of various taxonomic groups to intensification of land use.

We systematically assessed and quantified through meta-analysis the effects of various forms of land use intensification on soil organisms in global agroecosystems (192 studies included, 3190 pairwise observations comparing intensified land use to undisturbed ecosystems across 59 countries) and analyzed the dependence of these effects on abiotic factors such as soil properties (organic matter, pH, nutrient and water availability, texture) and climatic zone.

We observed a substantial decline in springtails abundance (-34%) and species richness (-16%), while earthworms experience a positive abundance trend (+217%) but a reduction in species richness (-12%). Enchytraeids exhibit a negative impact on abundance (-32%) with no effect on species richness. Mites show a positive increase in abundance (+129%), but a significant reduction in species richness (-50%). Nematodes, on the other hand, experience a negative impact on abundance (-7%) with no effect on species richness.

Focusing specifically on earthworms, we observed varying effects depending on the specific forms of intensification employed. Positive impacts on earthworm abundance are observed with agroforestry (+60%), cover crops, low input cropping (+113%), managed grasslands (+52%), vegetable gardens (+52%), and pastures (+218%). Conversely, negative effects are noted in arable cropland (-24%), orchards (-35%), specialty crops (-61%), crop livestock integration (-13%), and managed forests (-95%). Furthermore, the analysis reveals that the intensification effects on earthworm abundance vary across different climatic zones, with significant impacts observed in zones A and C. Higher intensification effects are noted in areas with greater mean annual precipitation, higher soil pH, finer soil textures (clayey, loamy, and silty), and increased organic matter content.

This comprehensive exploration sheds light on the intricate dynamics between land-use intensification and soil fauna, providing valuable insights for sustainable land management practices tailored to different ecological contexts.

How to cite: Betancur Corredor, B., Zaitsev, A., and Russell, D.: Understanding the Complexity: A Meta-Analysis of the Impact of Land Use Intensification on Soil Fauna in Global Agroecosystems, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-15886,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Lena Abou Jaoude, Rabi H. Mohtar, Farah Kamaleddine, Razan Dbaibo, Rania Bou Said, Imad Keniar, and Sandra F. Yanni

Sludge is an increasingly growing concern in Lebanon given the absence of proper treatment and disposal methods. As a solution, this two-years study proposes the valorization of sludge as an organic amendment on soil cultivated with rainfed wheat (Triticum icaversea) and itsimpact on soil properties, microbial activity, wheat yield and grain quality. Baseline characterization of sewage sludge collected from secondary treatment plant (SS) and tertiary treatment plant (TS) in Bekaa, Lebanon, showed that both sludge types can be classified as suitable for restricted agricultural use (Class B), which cannot be used on soils to grow fruits or vegetables that are eaten raw as per the Lebanese guidelines for sludge use. Post-harvest analysis of the amended soils revealed a significant enhancement in organic matter (OM), organic carbon (OC), soil moisture, wheat yield and grain quality in both seasons SS and TS amended soils compared to the control. All the tested heavy metals were much lower than the allowable limits for agricultural soils, except for zinc (Zn).  Wheat biomass and grain quality assessment revealed a significant increase of 30% in grain yield in both treated soils (SS: 74 g/m2, TS: 81 g/m2) compared to the control (46 g/m2). Notably, TS treatment exhibited the highest protein content (14.5%) and ash (1.9%) in the first season, while both SS and TS treatments showed a significant increase in grain moisture in the second season. Soil microbial analysis were not consistent in the two seasons, but showed a potential risk of total coliforms contamination with SS application in the second season. This research provides valuable insights into the positive effects of sewage sludge application on soil fertility, microbial communities, and wheat grain quality. The findings emphasize the potential benefits of sewage sludge in sustainable agriculture, underscored by numerical improvements in various parameters. Although promising soil quality improvement and yield increase were observed in this study, further research is still needed to assess the potential soil microbial contamination and heavy metal accumulation over the long term.

How to cite: Abou Jaoude, L., H. Mohtar, R., Kamaleddine, F., Dbaibo, R., Bou Said, R., Keniar, I., and F. Yanni, S.: Using Treated Wastewater Sludge to Improve Soil and Growth characteristics of Rain-fed Wheat under Semi-Arid Conditions, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-22474,, 2024.

Virtual presentation
Madhur Atreya, Taylor Sharpe, Shangshi Liu, Rebecca Killick, Mengyi Gong, Kelly Verhaalen, Anupam Gopalakrishnan, Noah Smock, Isabella Sarralde, Mac Bean, Jessica Davies, John Quinton, Richard Bardgett, Jason Neff, Evan Thomas, and Greg Whiting


The sensing of soil microbial and enzymatic activity continues to be a challenge, as current techniques are typically limited to the laboratory, and are time and labor intensive. In addition, such offsite assessments are not necessarily reflective of in situ bio-chemical-physical processes. We previously presented a novel printed decomposition sensor comprising a poly(hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) and carbon composite material, wherein the sensor response correlated with the microbial activity in incubated soils [1]. In field trials carried out in the Yorkshire Dales (UK) these devices showed a clear correlation with measured soil microbial biomass carbon. These sensors consisted of a single fuse-like resistive element and as such were subject to stochastic effects in soil, requiring large numbers of devices to be used in order to address variability in field measurements. Here, we present a novel hardware solution to mitigate these stochastic effects by parallelizing multiple printed sensing elements on custom printed circuit boards (PCBs). The first instantiation of this approach showed to be effective at smoothing out sensor response in potato farms in the Upper Midwest region of the United States. In order to further shape the signal response of these decomposition sensors, we explored different parallel topologies by varying the number of sensing elements, element width, and element length. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these different topologies.

[1] Atreya, M.; Desousa, S.; Kauzya, J.; Williams, E.; Hayes, A.; Dikshit, K.; Nielson, J.; Palmgren, A.; Khorchidian, S.; Liu, S.; Gopalakrishnan, A.; Bihar, E.; Bruns, C. J.; Bardgett, R.; Quinton, J. N.; Davies, J.; Neff, J. C.; Whiting, G. L. A Transient Printed Soil Decomposition Sensor Based on a Biopolymer Composite Conductor. Adv. Sci. 2022, 2205785, 1–10.

How to cite: Atreya, M., Sharpe, T., Liu, S., Killick, R., Gong, M., Verhaalen, K., Gopalakrishnan, A., Smock, N., Sarralde, I., Bean, M., Davies, J., Quinton, J., Bardgett, R., Neff, J., Thomas, E., and Whiting, G.: Novel Soil Decomposition Sensor: Field Studies and Design Improvements, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-21191,, 2024.


Posters on site: Wed, 17 Apr, 16:15–18:00 | Hall X2

Display time: Wed, 17 Apr 14:00–Wed, 17 Apr 18:00
Chairpersons: Laura Gismero Rodríguez, Claudio Zaccone, Nataliya Bilyera
Franziska Weinrich

Microrespiration: A field method for measuring microbial activity in arable soils

Franziska Weinrich1, Katharina Keiblinger1, Christoph Rosinger1,2 Gernot Bodner2

1Institute of Soil Research, Department of Forest- and Soil Sciences, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria (

2Institute of Agronomy, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria

The debate on soil health is more topical than ever. Large-scale soil monitoring is therefore an important tool for assessing the state of soil health. In this context, relatively simple yet reliable methods are needed to accompany lab-based analytics of different soil health indicators, such as microbial activity. Microbial activity is a useful parameter because most soil processes are mediated by soil microorganisms. The aim of this study is to develop a simple and affordable field test for broad applicability of measuring microbial activity in arable soils. The method was tested for sensitivity to different arable management systems and effects of land use as well as the influence of soil texture.

The principle of the field method is based on the colour change of a pH-indicator due to the acidic reaction with CO2 that is released during soil respiration. For this purpose, 13 agricultural sites with varying soil texture, three management systems as well as two types of land use (arable and natural vegetation) were examined. Pioneer management is characterized by management aiming for an increase of soil health by applying conservational or regenerative practices, Standard management involves state of common knowledge practices and the Reference, representing a different land use, is provided by a semi-natural vegetation strip.

The method was developed for different amounts of soil, moisture conditions, incubation periods and substrates (glucose powder, milled straw, milled alfalfa). For the validation of the field method, the colour change of the indicator (evaluated by means of RGB data) is compared to respiration measurements with gas chromatography in the laboratory. Additionally, microbial biomass carbon and ergosterol concentrations as well as their ratio were determined to evaluate changes in the abundance of the microbial community and bacteria vs. fungi composition.

The results show that the continuous colour change of the indicator is highly correlated with the CO2 concentrations measured in the laboratory (r2 = 0.62; p < 0.001). Furthermore, the metabolic quotient and the colour change correlate well with each other (r2 = 0.72; p < 0.001). The differentiation between agricultural management systems (Pioneer vs. Standard) is not so clear, land use however can clearly be distinguished with this method.  The influence of soil texture on the results of the field test is clearly visible. However, it is not possible to derive an indication on the microbial community composition with this method.

The performance of the field method leads to reasonable results and proves to be suitable for the simple determination of microbial activity in arable soils. After further improvement, this method provides a rather simple and affordable tool for soil health monitoring of arable soils.

How to cite: Weinrich, F.: Microrespiration: A field method for measuring microbial activity in arable soils, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-3910,, 2024.

Martin Schneider, Sabine Huber, Niklas Bruhn, Markus Gorfer, Sophie Zechmeister-Boltenstern, Gernot Bodner, and Katharina Keiblinger

Soil ecosystem services and soil health criteria, such as nutrient cycling, carbon (C) sequestration and water regulation, needs to be maintained and improved to meet our environmental, social and economic demands for the future within the frameworks of global change, population growth and economic independency.

This study investigated variations of soil physical, nutritional and microbial properties due to differing cover cropping systems within the first year. The experiment was located on an ongoing long-term tillage field trial in Hollabrunn, Austria. For 18 years, soils were cultivated either conventional (plough), reduced (grubber), minimized (disk-harrow) or by direct-seeding. Beside the fallow treatment, two mixtures of cover crops were selected. The 23 kg ha-1 standard mixture contained 65 % buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), 22 % scorpion-weed (Phacelia tanacetifolia) and 13 % mustard (Brassica juncea). The 35 kg ha-1 advanced mixture contained 14 different species with 19 % Fabaceae and 15 % Brassicaceae. Soils were sampled after sowing of the cover crop in september and in the following june after sowing soybean.

Intensive tillage systems increase mineralization, aeration, redox potential and rooting within the upper most ploughing (Ap) horizon, while decreasing water holding capacity and soil aggregation. However, the higher frequency of machinery passes favors soil compaction in the layer below and limits deep rooting. Reduced tillage systems might provide a less disturbed soil structure, supporting the soil microbiology. In contrast, the reduced aeration and minimized mechanical breakdown should increase water availability, which often is the most critical factor for soil life.

The current results indicated, that soil water contents and aggregate stability was enhanced in the two least intensive treatments. The microbial C and nitrogen (N), dissolved C and N, ergosterol, extracellular enzyme activities (EEA) and the organic C pool were significantly higher with minimized and no-till. This indicated a larger amount of substrates, generating a more active and larger microbial community in the latter.

The vegetative soil coverage between the main crops is another driving factor controlling water and nutrient availability by withdrawal, fixation, mobilization and by feeding the soil rhizosphere.

After one period, cover crop-related effects were found, as the standard mixture had higher EEA, indicating a lower nutrient availability. Larger organic, inorganic and total C pools were found in the advanced mixture. Only the microbial phosphorus (P) was higher in the advanced mixture and no effect was found for microbial C and N. Higher availability of N and P in the advanced mixture due to the higher proportion of Fabaceae and Brassicaceae and their strong mobilizing effect was indicated by the higher ratio of C- to N-allocating EEA and a lower ratio of N- to P-allocating EEA. The fallow treatment was in between both cover crops and seemed to provide considerable amounts of nutrients and water to the main crop, in the first spring.

A combination of minimized or no-tillage and a diverse cover crop seemed to by promising for improving soil health, but characterizing the microbial community by 16S rRNA and ITS is still in progress.

How to cite: Schneider, M., Huber, S., Bruhn, N., Gorfer, M., Zechmeister-Boltenstern, S., Bodner, G., and Keiblinger, K.: Finding the optimum tillage and cover crop system for optimizing microbial soil health and nutrient cycling, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-18424,, 2024.

Marion Mittmannsgruber, Guénola Peres, Rajasekaran Murugan, and Johann Zaller

Earthworms are a crucial part of soil biodiversity and indicate soil health, as they constitute the majority of soil macrofauna affecting various soil functions and ecosystem services. Among the most important drivers of the size and diversity of earthworm populations is land use, especially agriculture. It is widely known that agricultural activities such as tillage, fertilization or the use of agrochemicals directly and indirectly affect earthworms. However, it is rarely investigated to what extent soil properties and climatic factors interact with the influence of agricultural activities. To study this, we analysed datasets of earthworm surveys across 35 European countries covering various agricultural sectors, various soil types and climatic regions including mediterranean, oceanic, and continental climates, across several altitudinal ranges. Investigations were performed within the project MINOTAUR within the European Joint Programme Soil. Data on earthworm abundance and biodiversity in agroecosystems was collated from public sources containing FAIR (findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability) data such as GBIF, Edaphobase, datadryad, or zenodo, including many historical and non-English studies to prevent a publication bias. Moreover, long-term ecological research sites were sampled for earthworms as part of the project. The greatest challenge in collating earthworm data was to find meta-data regarding agricultural activities, soil properties and climatic data of the study sites. Moreover, data quality varied considerably, often lacking standard vocabulary, consistent species nomenclature, and details on sampling designs. Thus, preliminary outcomes of our analysis are (i) the need for data harmonization in biodiversity monitoring, (ii) the inclusion of a minimal set of meta-data regarding soil properties, land use intensity, and sampling methodology in order to be able to examine the drivers of earthworm populations in agricultural systems. After a tedious data harmonization process we will analyse our data using structural equation models, to determine which factors had the biggest impacts on earthworm abundance and biodiversity. Using this information, we can better understand earthworm population developments, and promote strategies to foster soil protection and earthworm biodiversity on a European scale.

How to cite: Mittmannsgruber, M., Peres, G., Murugan, R., and Zaller, J.: Earthworm populations and their drivers in agroecosystems across Europe: land use, soil properties, climatic factors, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-18198,, 2024.

Johann Zaller, Marion Mittmannsgruber, Edith Gruber, Elisabeth Wiedenegger, Dmytro Monoshyn, Yoko Muraoka, Kathrin Pascher, Stefan Schindler, and Rajasekaran Murugan

Systematic monitoring of soil biodiversity and soil health is still in its infancy in Europe. In Austria, there are several active biodiversity monitoring programs such as the BINATS Biodiversity-Nature-Safety or ÖBM-K Austrian Biodiversity Monitoring of the Cultural Landscape projects. However, these projects focus on habitat diversity, vascular plants, grasshoppers, butterflies and wild bees, but have not taken soil organisms into account. This is surprising, as soils are among the most species-rich habitats and intact soils are the basic prerequisite for the integrity of ecosystems. Healthy soils also play an important role in buffering extreme climate events such as heavy rainfall or drought, or sequester carbon. The aim of the BodenBiodiv project is to close this glaring data gap for Austria and to identify the causes of various indicators of soil biodiversity in the agricultural landscape. As part of objective 1, systematic monitoring of earthworms in the agricultural landscape will be established in 200 quadrants (625 x 625 m) throughout Austria, which are part of the BINATS and ÖBM-K monitoring programs. Lists of the earthworm species present, their abundance and biomass as well as a distribution map are being compiled. In addition, a manual for future surveys on national monitoring of soil biodiversity will be compiled using harmonized terminology as a supplement to the existing monitoring manuals in Austria. Objective 2 deals with the analysis of factors that determine the occurrence of earthworms. For this purpose, site characteristics (land use, altitude) and soil properties (pH value, nutrient concentrations, moisture content, carbon content, soil microorganisms) as well as and management practices are associated with the recorded earthworm parameters and the available biotope mapping of the plots. Objective 3 is to compile a first Red List of earthworms in Austria. BodenBiodiv focuses on indicators of the status of species and biotope types; genetic diversity is also to be determined later on the basis of backup samples. The comprehensive data set from different climatic regions in Austria, from lowlands to high alpine areas, BodenBiodiv also enables the assessment of the influence of climatic variables on soil biodiversity. By incorporating data from existing biodiversity monitoring programs, we can expand our understanding of the interactions between below-ground and above-ground biodiversity.

How to cite: Zaller, J., Mittmannsgruber, M., Gruber, E., Wiedenegger, E., Monoshyn, D., Muraoka, Y., Pascher, K., Schindler, S., and Murugan, R.: Implementation of a pioneer program for soil monitoring and assessment of factors influencing soil biodiversity in Austria, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-19809,, 2024.

Giacomo Ferretti, Christoph Rosinger, Eugenio Diaz-Pines, Thomas Weninger, Orracha Sae-Tun, Barbara Faccini, Massimo Coltorti, and Katharina Keiblinger

The use of natural zeolites to enhance soil properties has gained popularity, but there are limited long-term data on its effects. This study evaluates the Soil Quality Index (SQI) in three agricultural soil systems, 6-10 years post-application of chabazite zeolite. These soils had different management practices: intensive arable (cereals), intensive perennial (pear), and organic perennial (olive).

In the arable system, chabazite was applied at rates of 5, 10, and 15 kg m-2, compared to unamended soil. Perennial systems were tested at 5 kg m-2. Analysis of 25 soil parameters related to soil health was conducted at each site, including soil physic-chemical properties (bulk density, pH, electrical conductivity, cation exchange capacity, C-N-P species), biological properties (microbial C-N-P, enzyme activity) and gaseous emissions (CO2, N2O and NH3 fluxes). Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was performed to determine the SQI using a linear scoring method.

In the arable-cereal field, chabazite increased the SQI significantly from ~0.3 to ~0.6, but no clear dose effect was evident. The SQI also rose significantly in perennial fields thanks to the use of chabazite zeolites. Different indicators have been selected by the PCA at each site, suggesting that chabazite addition impacted soil quality differently in each cropping system.

Overall, this research underscores chabazite zeolite potential to boost soil health, indicating a substantial enhancement in soil quality post-amendment.

How to cite: Ferretti, G., Rosinger, C., Diaz-Pines, E., Weninger, T., Sae-Tun, O., Faccini, B., Coltorti, M., and Keiblinger, K.: Long-Term Effects of Chabazite-Zeolite Tuff Amendments on Soil Quality in Arable and Perennial Cropping Systems, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-10649,, 2024.

Yu Tian, Jing Jing Liu, and Shenggao Lu

The conversion of open fields to greenhouse cultivation leads to an increase in the amount and frequency of fertilization, as well as an increase in tillage intensity, which significantly affects soil organic carbon turnover and sequestration. In this study, four types of soils were selected in the coastal area of southeast China based on a sequence of greenhouse cultivation years of 0, 8, 18, and 36. The study fractionated the soil into four organic fractions: free mineral-associated organic carbon (f-MAOC), occluded mineral-associated organic carbon (o-MAOC), free particulate organic carbon (f-POC), occluded particulate organic carbon (o-POC), using particle size and density separation. The organic carbon content and natural abundance of 13C were measured for each of these fractions, as well as for the bulk soil. Key findings include a significant increase in bulk soil organic carbon with extended greenhouse cultivation, although differences between 18 and 36 years were not significant (27.4 g kg-1 and 31.7 g kg-1 respectively). o-MAOC and o-POC contents increased initially, then declined after 18 years. Notably, f-POC content significantly rose after 36 years, reaching 9.91 g kg-1. The δ13C values for f-MAOC, o-MAOC, and f-POC showed similar increasing trends, peaking after 18 years. The carbon flow analysis revealed the main carbon turnover pathway from f-POC to o-MAOC, with reverse transfers occurring after 18 and 36 years. It highlighted a saturation limit in the sequestration capacity of occluded organic carbon and significant accumulation of labile organic carbon due to long-term greenhouse cultivation. These findings offer new insights into carbon management in agricultural soils.

How to cite: Tian, Y., Liu, J. J., and Lu, S.: The impact of converting open-field cultivation to greenhouse cultivation on the accumulation of organic carbon in coastal soil, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-7247,, 2024.

Barbara Simon, Györgyi Gelybó, Igor Dekemati, Hanaa M.I. Tharwat, Maxwell Maimela Modiba, and Márta Birkás

Carbon sequestration in our soils in the form of stable, humus materials is one of the most important tasks of our time, which can be monitored by tests carried out in long-term cultivation experiments. In our research, our objective was to determine the soil physical (0-10, 10-20, 20-30 and 30-40 cm depth: bulk density, soil moisture content), chemical (0-20 cm: pH(H2O), pH(KCl), soil organic carbon) and biological properties (0-20 cm: abundance, biomass, species composition of earthworms, soil microbial respiration – SMR). Out of the six soil cultivation methods (no-till, loosening, shallow and deep cultivation, disking and ploughing), we selected three (no-till – NT; shallow cultivation – SC, and ploughing – P) for our experiment. Based on our results, we can say that there was significant difference among the treatments in bulk density in the top layer (0-10 cm) (NT > SC, P), and NT was significantly greater than P in the deeper layers (10–20, 20–30, 30–40 cm). Soil moisture content was only significantly different in the lowest examined layer (30-40 cm), ie. P > SC = NT. The soil organic carbon content (0-10cm) of the investigated treatments was the highest in NT (2.5%), followed by SC (2.4%) and P (2.0%). Soil microbial respiration was significantly greater in NT than in SC and P. The abundance and biomass of earthworms was the highest in the NT treatment (189 ind m-2, 41.26 g m-2), which was followed by SC (125 ind m-2, 36.9 g m-2) and then by P (48 ind m-2, 7.4 g m-2). Thus, NT offers beneficial habitat for earthworms and microorganisms, high SOC storage capacity, whereas the physical parameters tend to be less convenient due to soil compaction in our experiment. Therefore, SC can offer an alternative approach for sustainable soil tillage.

How to cite: Simon, B., Gelybó, G., Dekemati, I., M.I. Tharwat, H., Maimela Modiba, M., and Birkás, M.: Status of soil health after 18 years of systematic tillage, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-7713,, 2024.

Karin Kauer and Alar Astover

Substantial progress has been made in estimating and mapping soil organic carbon stocks, but the quantification of carbon stock change rates still needs exploration in numerous soil and management combinations. In this research, the soil organic carbon (SOC) changes and soil organic matter (SOM) composition in the long-term experiment (established in 1989, Tartu, Estonia) with sandy loam soil were studied. The experiment involves three-field crop rotation (potato-spring wheat-spring barley) with two fertilization regimes: (1) mineral fertilisation (N rates 0, 40, 80, 120 and 160 kg ha-1) and (2) same mineral fertilisation treatments with farmyard manure amendment. During 1989–2017, every spring the soil samples were taken from the 0-20 cm soil layer, and SOC concentration was measured by dry combustion. In 2017, the size fractionation of soil samples was also performed. In 2022, the soil samples were also taken from the area surrounding the experimental site, which has not been cultivated since the experiment was established and has been as permanent grassland (GR). Soil mineral-associated organic matter (MAOM fraction;<63 µm) of permanent grasslands is considered to be saturated with C thus the GR was used to estimate the MAOM-C saturation potential in treatments.

The SOC stock increased (0.08–0.18 Mg ha-1 y-1 depending on N fertiliser rate) only in manure treatments. In GR treatment the SOC stock remained unchanged. Without manure, the SOC stock decreased in range from -0.15 to -0.26 Mg ha-1 y-1. N fertilization had a positive effect on SOC stock. Initially, 27% of total SOC stock is related to particulate organic matter (POM fraction, 63-2000 µm) and 73% to MAOM fraction. Without manure, the proportion of C related to POM fraction decreased during 28 years to 21%, while in treatments with manure, it remained stable (28%). POM fraction plays an important role in plant nutrient supply, thus a higher proportion of C related to POM fraction in treatments with manure indicates sustainable nutrition conditions for plants and all soil biota. The MAOM-C concentrations in treatments without manure varied from 17.8 to 19.4 mg g-1 and were lower compared to treatments with manure (21.0–21.8 mg g-1). The MAOM-C of GR was 20.7 mg g-1 indicating that the soil is nearly saturated in manure treatments.  However, treatments without manure are far from saturation and have considerable potential for additional MAOM-C sequestration, varying between 3.0-6.8 Mg ha-1 depending on N fertilization. Soil organic matter fractionation into POM and MAOM fractions allows us to assess the soil's properties for sustainable plant production, and actual C sequestration capabilities, and provide crucial recommendations for effective management strategies.

How to cite: Kauer, K. and Astover, A.: Soil organic carbon change after 28 years of fertilisation in temperate conditions of Estonia, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-3449,, 2024.

Iryna Loginova, Nataliya Bilyera, Callum Banfield, Denis Kutoley, Yakov Kuzyakov, and Michaela A. Dippold

Biochar (BC) application to soil is a method of long-term carbon (C) sequestration in croplands. Along with contribution to climate change mitigation, agronomic benefits of biochar are widely accepted. Amelioration and nutritive benefits of biochar are mainly attributed to high applications rates, which may not be viable for farmers. We suggest a new approach: band application, which implements biochar in modern intensive crop rotations and optimizes both C and nutrients cycles (i.e. phosphorus (P)).

As maize is globally one of the most widely planted crops, corncobs (CC) may be utilized for BC production. Corncob biochar (CC BC) may be implemented into the farming practice as suspension with liquid phosphorus solution jointly applied in band in the close proximity to seeds.

We conducted an incubation experiment to evaluate the short-term effects (within 32 days) of corncob biochar and inorganic P application on P availability and microbial activity in a loamy Luvisol.

Corncobs were pyrolyzed to biochar (350oC; 0.2-0.3oC s-1), grinded (<200 µm), suspended and mixed with phosphate solution (as monopotassium phosphate). We compared liquid phosphorus (P) and joint P and BC application (BC+P) to control (water). The application rates were: 30 kg ha-1 P (200 mg kg-1 P) and 300 kg ha-1 BC (0.2% w/w). Soil was sampled on day 7, 14, and 32 to measure pH, available P, enzyme kinetics, microbial biomass C, N, and P.

Despite the alkaline pH of BC (pH 8.7), application of BC+P and P decreased soil pH (5.6-5.7) compared to soil in control (5.8). Acidifying effect of suspensions was attributed to used phosphate source and may differ for others. BC+P did not alter soil P availability compared to solely P applied. Thus, dynamics of soil available P within 32 days was mainly attributed to soil processes but not the BC effect.

Higher basal respiration in amended soil compared to control within first 7 days indicates that physiological status of microorganisms was affected by P and BC+P application. But this was independent on changes in microbial biomass C and dissolved organic C. Microbial biomass-specific activity of beta-glucosidase and leucine aminopeptidase (but not acid phosphatase) in BC+P soil were lower compared to only P application, that may be caused by adsorbing properties of BC. The application BC+P increased the catalytic efficiency (Ka) of all enzymes compared to only P, which indicates the positive effect of biochar on enzymatic efficiency of soil.

Sole P application resulted in acceleration of P immobilization on day 32, as microbial molar C:N:P ratio for only P (18:2:1) differed from control and BC+P (35:3:1 and 36:4:1, accordingly). Principal Component Analysis revealed that BC+P treatment differed from the control and solely P applied at all time points.

To conclude, joint application of corncob biochar suspension and phosphorus solution may not only increase soil P availability, but prevent high P immobilization by microorganisms and facilitate higher enzyme efficiency to potentially increase nutrient availability for seedlings in the application bands.

How to cite: Loginova, I., Bilyera, N., Banfield, C., Kutoley, D., Kuzyakov, Y., and Dippold, M. A.: How biochar suspension influences soil microbial activity and phosphorus availability, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-7709,, 2024.

Mohammad Aziz Zarif, Amirhossein Hassani, Panos Panagos, Inma Lebron, David A. Robinson, and Nima Shokri

Soil salinization, referring to the excessive accumulation of soluble salt in soils, adversely influences nutrient cycling, microbial activity, biodiversity, plant growth and crop production thus affecting soil health and ecosystem functioning. Soil salinity quantification is a major step toward mitigation of its effects. Therefore, developing quantitative tools to predict soil salinity at regional and continental levels under different boundary conditions and scenarios is crucial for sustainable soil management and security of natural resources (1-3). This study proposes an AI-driven soil salinity quantification and projection approach focused on EU soils using a set of environmental covariates which consist of soil properties, terrain attributes, climate, and remotely sensed variables. The soil salinity point data which was used for model training and validation, expressed as electrical conductivity, was obtained from the LUCAS survey for the years 2015 and 2018. The novelty of this work lies in the careful integration of LUCAS data point with AI-driven models aiming to produce soil salinity maps for EU soils. Different AI algorithms including Random Forest, LightGBM, and XGBoost were used in this study enabling us to evaluate the performance of each algorithm in predicting soil salinity across EU with the XGBoost algorithm producing the most accurate results. Feature engineering technique was applied to reduce the models’ collinearity; thus 17 covariates were selected as the most important model variables influencing soil salinity from the initial 34 covariates investigated in our analysis. The output of the predictive model will be a gridded dataset illustrating the spatial and temporal (yearly) distribution of soil salinity across the EU, accompanied by the corresponding uncertainty maps with the spatial resolution of 1-km. This information is crucial for identifying regions with elevated salinity levels and formulating necessary action plans to mitigate the situation.


  • Hassani, A., Azapagic, A., Shokri, N. (2020). Predicting Long-term Dynamics of Soil Salinity and Sodicity on a Global Scale, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 117(52), 33017-33027,
  • Hassani, A., Azapagic, A., Shokri, N. (2021). Global Predictions of Primary Soil Salinization Under Changing Climate in the 21st Century, Nat. Commun., 12, 6663.
  • Shokri-Kuehni, S.M.S., Raaijmakers, B., Kurz, T., Or, D., Helmig, R., Shokri, N. (2020). Water Table Depth and Soil Salinization: From Pore-Scale Processes to Field-Scale Responses. Water Resour. Res., 56, e2019WR026707,

How to cite: Zarif, M. A., Hassani, A., Panagos, P., Lebron, I., Robinson, D. A., and Shokri, N.: AI-driven spatiotemporal quantification and prediction of soil salinity at European scale using the LUCAS database, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-8176,, 2024.

Vahid Sobhi Gollo, Amirhossein Hassani, Peter Fröhle, and Nima Shokri

Sustainable soil and land management which is vital for security of natural resources and food production is a complex task due to the wide range of parameters influencing soil quality and health (1,2). Various parameters, including climatic variables such as precipitation, evaporation, and, in coastal regions, sea level rise and saltwater intrusion (3), hydrogeological factors like groundwater table levels influencing evaporative fluxes (4), groundwater salinity, and soil properties as well as anthropogenic factors such as fertilization and land use, play important roles in sustainable soil management and health. In this study, we gathered diverse climatic, hydrogeological, and anthropogenic data within an intensive food production and natural preservation study area situated in North Sea adjacent northern Germany to explore the complex interplay of parameters affecting soil health and characterize the impact of these variables on sustainable soil management. The area is characterized by predominantly flat terrain with fertile soils utilized for agriculture and grazing. Additionally, it contains protected areas such as forests. Due to significant variations in land use and soil properties across the region, we categorized the area into subgroups for robust comparability. This involved dividing the region into agricultural, grassland, and forest areas, each identified by specific characteristics, such as crop production, meadow type, fertilization method, and soil nutrient holding capacity. Additional parameters including precipitation, evaporation, and leakage were factored into a groundwater recharge model for the area. Statistical analysis and machine learning algorithms were employed to assess the interrelations among these parameters affecting sustainable soil management. Recognizing these interrelations, we adapted our model to potential future scenarios and discussed how hypothetical alterations to parameters such as groundwater recharge and added fertilizer could impact land management in the study area. Our findings are applicable to areas employing similar land management practices, offering insights into the vulnerabilities and potentials of these regions in the face of a changing climate and are useful for implementing mitigation measures against land degradation and preventing the loss of fertile soil.


1. Hassani, A., Azapagic, A., Shokri, N. (2020). Predicting Long-term Dynamics of Soil Salinity and Sodicity on a Global Scale, Proc. Nat. Sci., 117(52), 33017-33027,

2. Hassani, A., Azapagic, A., Shokri, N. (2021). Global Predictions of Primary Soil Salinization Under Changing Climate in the 21st Century, Nat. , 12, 6663.

3. Nevermann, H., Gomez, J.N.B., Fröhle, P., Shokri, N. (2023), Land loss implications of sea level rise along the coastline of Colombia under different climate change scenarios, Clim. Risk Manag., 39, 100470,

4. Sadeghi, M., Shokri, N., Jones, S.B. (2012). A novel analytical solution to steady-state evaporation from porous media. Water Resour. Res., 48, W09516,

How to cite: Sobhi Gollo, V., Hassani, A., Fröhle, P., and Shokri, N.: Assessing climatic, hydrogeological, and anthropogenic factors shaping sustainable soil management: A case study in northern Germany, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-5596,, 2024.

Vita Strokal, Yevhenii Berezhniak, Olena Naumovska, and Svitlana Palamarchuk

This research aims to discuss and reflect on the main consequences of the Russian-Ukrainian war on the soil, and water resources of Ukraine. For the soil resources, the main outcomes are as follows: 1) approximately 35% of the Ukrainian territories have been experiencing soil destruction processes due to the war implications – 130 thousand km2 of the land is mined or damaged; part of the agricultural land for growing crops is not suitable, especially in regions (oblasts) such as Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Kyiv, and Chernihiv (according to the state report on May 2023); 2) as a result of the damaged Kakhovka Hydropower Dam, losses of crop yields on the part of the Kherson region consist of 100 thousand tons, 31 irrigation systems are left without access to water supply in the southern part of Ukraine. Degradation of soil has impacts on water pollution via polluted runoff and erosion.

For the water resources, the main outcomes are as follows: 1) 724 hydrotechnical systems (hydraulic structures), 160 of treatment and sewage systems (water treatment and sewage facilities), and 22 dams are destroyed leading to water pollution; 2) up to 90% of the irrigation system in the south of Ukraine is lost, and 67% less fishing due to damaged or destroyed hydraulic systems; 3) the disruption of the Kakhovka Hydropower Dam has resulted in the flooded areas: water from the dammed reservoir was flushed and flooded the surrounded areas with polluted soils and households, a lot of pollutants was released into the water from untreated human waste, products of animals, around 31 water supply and drainage facilities were affected, 13 villages left without centralized water supply, and 4 landfills of solid household waste became flooded.

In our research, we analyzed the implications of the Russian-Ukrainian war on the state of soil and water resources and explored their interactions. We identified the main consequences of the Russian aggression such as the loss of soil productivity, the reduction of food production potentials, and the reduction of water safety and availability. The cause-and-effect relationships of risks are discussed. These relationships can become a threat and lead to the deterioration of the population's supply of food and safe water, and the spread of infectious diseases.

Keywords: soil resources; water resources; the Russian-Ukrainian war; soil destruction, the deterioration of food and safe water.


How to cite: Strokal, V., Berezhniak, Y., Naumovska, O., and Palamarchuk, S.: The impact of the Russian-Ukrainian war on the soil-surface water interactions, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-1115,, 2024.

Posters virtual: Wed, 17 Apr, 14:00–15:45 | vHall X2

Display time: Wed, 17 Apr 08:30–Wed, 17 Apr 18:00
Chairpersons: Emmanuel Arthur, Sana Boubehziz, Francisco Jesús Moreno Racero
Volodymyr Illienko, Olga Kosarchuk, Alla Klepko, Dmytro Lazarev, and Mykola Lazarev

About tens thousands hectares of agricultural land in the norther part of Ukraine cannot be used for agricultural production under the Law 'On the Legal Regime of the Territory Affected by Radioactive Contamination as a Result of the Chornobyl Disaster' since 1986 only in Zhytomyr Oblast. Additionally, due to Russia's aggressive military actions, large areas of Ukraine (currently near 800 thousands ha) are unable to carry out agricultural work. It may take over minimum ten years to clear the territories of mines. In these circumstances, revision of the actual contamination levels of lands may help to increase the share of agricultural lands in Ukraine. But before the economic use of these lands, it is essential to conduct a survey to determine the level of soil contamination with radionuclides and assess the radiological situation. This data will form the basis to decide whether the previously contaminated lands can be returned to economic use.

We conducted the radiological surveys, where the radiation background indicators were measured in 2023 in Narodychi and Vyazivka using modern devices that allow automatic registration of routes with GPS reference and marking of gamma background parameters. We recorded from 200 to 600 points on each field to build maps of the spatial distribution of soil radioactive contamination. The Narodychi community in Zhytomyr Oblast provided 30 field plots marked as 'radioactive land' in the State Land Cadastre of Ukraine. These plots include 23 agricultural lands covering an area of over 1400 hectares and 7 floodplain meadows of the Uzh and Zherev rivers covering 1200 hectares. The levels of radioactive contamination in the soil were determine on the agricultural lands, specifically with regards to 137Cs, 90Sr, and partially 238-240Pu isotopes. The maps were constructed to determine the density of radioactive contamination of soil in each field based on the obtained results.

We concluded, that the density of 137Cs, 90Sr and 238-240Pu contamination in the agricultural lands around the settlements of Narodychi and Vyazivka did not exceed the lower limit of the criteria for their classification as an unconditional (mandatory) resettlement zone. Specifically, cesium, strontium and plutonium isotopes did not exceed 555 kBq/m2, 111 kBq/m2 and 3.7 kBq/m2, respectively. While the criteria for assignment to the guaranteed voluntary resettlement zone are limited to cesium isotopes from 185 to 555 kBq/m2, strontium from 5.55 to 111 kBq/m2, or plutonium from 0.37 to 3.7 kBq/m2 (according to Article 2 of the Law of Ukraine "On the Legal Regime of the Territory Affected by Radioactive Contamination as a Result of the Chornobyl Disaster"). Accordingly, all surveyed land should lose its status as 'radioactive land' and can be returned to economic use.

We acknowledge the National Research Foundation of Ukraine for the financial support of this research (Project number 2022.01/0188).

How to cite: Illienko, V., Kosarchuk, O., Klepko, A., Lazarev, D., and Lazarev, M.: Prospects of returning radioactively contaminated lands in the northern part of Ukraine to economic use, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-8568,, 2024.

Atefeh Movassagh, Bibiana Betancur Corredor, and Martin Hamer

Sustainable urban soil management is becoming increasingly crucial due to its vital role in climate and water regulation and its significant potential for storing soil organic carbon (SOC). This significance is emphasized considering the ongoing urbanization and climate change issues. Although SOC is influenced by many factors, such as soil type and climate fluctuations (temperature, precipitation patterns), on a regional scale, land use and management practices (e.g., fertilization, irrigation) can have a more significant impact on SOC storage and the balance of soil-atmosphere carbon fluxes. However, there is still a limited understanding of the amount of humus content in urban soils and the effects of urban development and management practices on soil health and carbon storage. We investigated how management practices in urban green spaces influence soil carbon storage as the primary indicator of soil health.

The present study was carried out in the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg area, as the region is vital in terms of sustainable urban and regional development with a high population density (Rhein-Sieg district: 338.4, Bonn: 520.9 inhabitants/km2) in Germany. A survey was conducted with owners and managers of urban private (e.g., allotment and backyard garden) and public green spaces on the practices for the most common vegetation types (e.g., lawn, vegetable, ornamental). In the autumn and winter of 2022, 248 soil samples (0–20 cm depth) were collected from 95 private and public green spaces in the study area and analyzed for physiochemical and biological properties. Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) was performed to assess the effects of different management practices on soil properties.

Our results indicate that the average SOC stock in public green areas (94.67 Mg ha-1) is substantially higher than in private ones (house garden 67.72 Mg ha-1, allotment garden 73.15 Mg ha-1). Moreover, urban green spaces with vegetables (91.66 Mg ha-1) and ornamentals (85.05 mg ha-1) show greater SOC stock levels when comparing vegetation types (lawn 62.48 Mg ha-1). Significant differences in SOC are also found for various management practices. Specifically, the monthly fertilization schedule resulted in higher SOC levels (127.37 Mg ha⁻¹) compared to the yearly fertilization schedule (76.88 Mg ha⁻¹). Additionally, the use of organic fertilizers contributed to increased SOC levels (84.40 Mg ha⁻¹) in contrast to mineral fertilizer applications (65.31 Mg ha⁻¹). The average SOC stock in all the studied urban green spaces (85 mg ha-1) was higher than the average SOC stock in arable soils in Germany (47.30 Mg ha-1). The higher SOC in the region could be due to vegetation types and fertilization frequencies, which show statistically significant effects (p-value <0.001). Other management practices (e.g., irrigation type and frequency) did not show a significant effect. Our findings highlight the significance of soil management practices, particularly in selecting vegetation types and determining fertilization frequency, as essential factors influencing urban SOC.

How to cite: Movassagh, A., Betancur Corredor, B., and Hamer, M.: Promoting Carbon Storage and Health in Urban Soils through Sustainable Management Practices  , EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-13244,, 2024.