Physical soil quality indicators for monitoring British soils
Ron Corstanje1, Theresa Mercer2, Jane R. Rickson1, Lynda K. Deeks1, Paul Newell-Price3, Ian Holman4, Cedric Kechavarzi5, and Toby W. Waine11Cranfield Soil and Agrifood Institute, School of Water, Energy and Environment (SWEE), Cranfield University, Bedfordshire, MK43 0AL, UK 2Cranfield Institute for Resilient Futures, School of Water, Energy and Environment (SWEE), Cranfield University, Bedfordshire, MK43 0AL, UK 3ADAS Gleadthorpe, Meden Vale, Mansfield, Notts., NG20 9PF, UK 4Cranfield Water Science Institute, School of Water, Energy and Environment (SWEE) , Cranfield University, Bedfordshire, MK43 0AL, UK 5Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, University of Cambridge, Trumpington Street , Cambridge CB2 1PZ , UK
Received: 08 Nov 2016 – Accepted for review: 17 Nov 2016 – Discussion started: 18 Nov 2016
Abstract. The condition or quality of soils determines its ability to deliver a range of functions that support ecosystem services, human health and wellbeing. The increasing policy imperative to implement successful soil monitoring programmes has resulted in the demand for reliable soil quality indicators (SQIs) for physical, biological and chemical soil properties. The selection of these indicators needs to ensure that they are sensitive and responsive to pressure and change e.g. they change across space and time in relation to natural perturbations and land management practices. Using a logical sieve approach based on key policy-related soil functions, this research assessed whether physical soil properties can be used to indicate the quality of British soils in terms of its capacity to deliver ecosystem goods and services. The resultant prioritised list of physical SQIs were tested for robustness, spatial and temporal variability and expected rate of change using statistical analysis and modelling. Six SQIs were prioritised; packing density, soil water retention characteristics, aggregate stability, rate of erosion, depth of soil and soil sealing. These all have direct relevance to current and likely future soil and environmental policy and are appropriate for implementation in soil monitoring programs.
Corstanje, R., Mercer, T., Rickson, J. R., Deeks, L. K., Newell-Price, P., Holman, I., Kechavarzi, C., and Waine, T. W.: Physical soil quality indicators for monitoring British soils, Solid Earth Discuss., doi:10.5194/se-2016-153, in review, 2016.