Documents

Over the years, the JRC has produced many publications. These are found in this section. They have been sub-divided in various categories (see Subcategory buttons below). All more than 440 documents can also be inspected irrespective of the category (see 'All documents' below).

Publications in Journals include more than 280 published papers from the Soil Group in the JRC. Most of the papers refer to the last 7 years (2013-2020). In many cases the papers document the datasets published in ESDAC. Almost all the publications are Open Access. 

 

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The relevance of sustainable soil management within the European Green Deal
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2021

The new European Green Deal has the ambition to make the European Union the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The European Commission presented an ambitious package of measures within the Biodiversity Strategy 2030, the Farm to Fork and the European Climate Law including actions to protect our soils. The Farm to Fork strategy addresses soil pollution with 50 % reduction in use of chemical pesticides by 2030 and aims 20 % reduction in fertilizer use plus a decrease of nutrient losses by at least 50%. The Biodiversity Strategy has the ambition to set a minimum of 30 % of the EU’s land area as protected areas, limit urban sprawl, reduce the pesticides risk, bring back at least 10 % of agricultural area under high-diversity landscape features, put forward the 25 % of the EU’s agricultural land as organically farmed, progress in the remediation of contaminated sites, reduce land degradation and plant more than three billion new trees. The maintenance of wetlands and the enhancement of soil organic carbon are also addressed in the European Climate Law. The new EU Soil Observatory will be collecting policy relevant data and developing indicators for the regular assessment and progress towards the ambitious targets of the Green Deal.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264837720304257

Soil and water threats in a changing environment
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2020
A fast pacing climate change exacerbates the multitude of human impacts. Several reports highlighted (e.g., Magurran, 2016; Lewis et al., 2017; Diffenbaugh et al., 2018) that the degree of impact imposed by human activities on all the ecosystem components are unprecedented. We entered a new era, the Anthropocene (Malhi, 2017; Laurence, 2019). In this new era, soil and water resources are exposed to tremendous pressure, and our life depends on it.
 
Soils and water environments (e.g., freshwater, coastal and marine) provide a wide range of direct and indirect regulating (e.g., carbon sequestration, climate regulation, water purification and storage, flood retention), provisioning (e.g., food, fiber, wood), and cultural (e.g., education, recreation, landscape aesthetics) ecosystem services (ES). Therefore, both soils and water are the key elements to humankind (Barbier, 2017; Pereira et al., 2018; Jorda-Capdevila et al., 2019). Soils and water environments interact in a continuum through very complex processes and feedbacks. For example, agriculture practices have implications on land degradation, water bodies eutrophication and pollution.
 
Here, we present numerous studies focusing on how land abandonment (Tarolli et al., 2019), urbanization (Ferreira et al., 2018), agriculture intensification (Panagos et al., 2016), mining (Zibret et al., 2018), warfare activities in relation to land degradation (Certini et al., 2013) and climate change (Plaza et al., 2019) are accelerating soil and water resources degradation, and reducing their capacity to provide ES in quality and quantity. These drivers of change either interact individually or coupled at different spatio-temporal scales

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935120303947

The potential of straw mulch as a nature-based solution in olive groves. A biophysical and socio-economic assessment
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2020

Fifty paired plots under simulated rainfall showed that the use of a cover of straw mulch of 50% (1 mg ha−1) in olive orchards results in a reduction of soil erosion. An economic survey based on interviews shows that the use of straw mulch in olive plantation would cost €174.7 ha−1, from which €54.7 ha−1 is needed for the application work, €52.3 ha−1 for the purchase cost, and €67.7 ha−1 for the transport of 20‐kg bales. The cost of the straw is 22.5% of the total income of the farmers. We found that their perception was negative about the use of straw mulch, as the tradition is to keep the soil clean from any weed or cover, except the crop. However, farmers would use it if they would be subsidized with a minimum of €267 ha−1, which is €92 ha−1 more than the costs estimated on the basis of the surveys. We conclude that soil erosion can be controlled with the use of straw mulch but that to convince farmers to adopt this management strategy, it needs to be subsidized.

Maximising climate mitigation potential by carbon and radiative agricultural land management with cover crops
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2020

To reach the Paris climate targets, the mitigation capacity needs to be maximized across all components of the Earth system, especially land. Mitigation actions through land management, such as cover crops in agricultural soils, are often evaluated in terms of their carbon sequestration potential, while radiative forcing related to surface albedo changes is often ignored. The aim of this study was to assess the mitigation potential of cover crops, both as changes in biogenic greenhouse gas fluxes (CO2 and N2O) and albedo-driven radiative forcing at the top of the atmosphere (TOA). To achieve this, we have integrated a biogeochemistry model framework running on approximately 8000 locations across the European Union with detailed soil data, supplemented with time series of albedo measurements derived from satellite remote sensing. We found that carbon sequestration remained the dominant mitigation effect, with 1th and 3rd interquartile of 5.2–17.0 Mg CO2e ha−1 at 2050, and negligible changes in N2O emissions over that time-horizon. Cover crops were generally brighter than bare soils, hence, the reflected shortwave radiation at TOA ranged between 0.08–0.22 Wm−2 on average, broadly equivalent to a removal of 0.8–3.9 Mg CO2e ha−1. Through scenarios analysis, we further showed how the mitigation potential could be substantially increased by growing a high albedo chlorophyll-deficient cover crop. This radiative land management option has an additional benefit of providing its mitigation effect more rapidly than carbon sequestration, although additional studies might be warranted to evaluate local and non-local associated climatic effects, such as changes in patterns of surface temperature and precipitation.

https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aba137

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Resource Type: Maps & Documents, Documents
Author: MvL
Year: 2020

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Blind spots in global soil biodiversity and ecosystem function research
Resource Type: Maps & Documents, Documents, Publications in Journals
Year: 2020

Soils harbor a substantial fraction of the world’s biodiversity, contributing to many crucial ecosystem functions. It is thus essential to identify general macroecological patterns related to the distribution and functioning of soil organisms to support their conservation and consideration by governance. These macroecological analyses need to represent the diversity of environmental conditions that can be found worldwide. Here we identify and characterize existing environmental gaps in soil taxa and ecosystem functioning data across soil macroecological studies and 17,186 sampling sites across the globe. These data gaps include important spatial, environmental, taxonomic, and functional gaps, and an almost complete absence of temporally explicit data. We also identify the limitations of soil macroecological studies to explore general patterns in soil biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships, with only 0.3% of all sampling sites having both information about biodiversity and function, although with different taxonomic groups and functions at each site. Based on this information, we provide clear priorities to support and expand soil macroecological research.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-17688-2

A Soil Erosion Indicator for Supporting Agricultural, Environmental and Climate Policies in the European Union
Resource Type: Maps & Documents, Documents, Publications in Journals
Year: 2020
Publisher: Remote Sensing

Soil erosion is one of the eight threats in the Soil Thematic Strategy, the main policy instrument dedicated to soil protection in the European Union (EU). During the last decade, soil erosion indicators have been included in monitoring the performance of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This study comes five years after the assessment of soil loss by water erosion in the EU [Environmental science & policy 54, 438–447 (2015)], where a soil erosion modelling baseline for 2010 was developed. Here, we present an update of the EU assessment of soil loss by water erosion for the year 2016. The estimated long-term average erosion rate decreased by 0.4% between 2010 and 2016. This small decrease of soil loss was due to a limited increase of applied soil conservation practices and land cover change observed at the EU level. The modelling results suggest that, currently, ca. 25% of the EU land has erosion rates higher than the recommended sustainable threshold (2 t ha−1 yr−1) and more than 6% of agricultural lands suffer from severe erosion (11 t ha−1 yr−1). The results suggest that a more incisive set of measures of soil conservation is needed to mitigate soil erosion across the EU. However, targeted measures are recommendable at regional and national level as soil erosion trends are diverse between countries which show heterogeneous application of conservation practices.

https://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/12/9/1365

 

How to halt the global decline of lands
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2020
Land degradation is the persistent reduction in the capacity of the land to support human and other life on Earth1. Human dominance of land and its natural resources has vastly increased over the past century and has substantially altered natural ecological processes on three-quarters of the Earth’s land surface2. That domination of the biosphere has contributed to increased human welfare, but the downside to humans and the environment is increasingly apparent. In every terrestrial and freshwater ecosystem type, to varying degrees, unsustainable land use and overexploitation of natural resources have impaired ecological function, capacity to supply ecosystem services, and the ability to support biodiversity1. Populations of wild species have decreased and extinctions are occurring much more frequently than the rate at which new species naturally evolve3. Land degradation has negatively affected the living conditions of at least two-fifths of the people on Earth and it is estimated to be reducing global economic output by a tenth4. Vulnerable groups, indigenous and marginalized communities are disproportionately and negatively impacted, especially in terms of water supply and quality, health, and disaster vulnerability.
 

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-020-0477-x

Positive cascading effect of restoring forests
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2020

Recent assessment of global tree restoration potential reports that under current climate conditions there would be room for additional 0.9 billion hectares of woodlands and forests Bastin (2019). This could store 205 gigatonnes of carbon making forest restoration a viable strategy for climate change mitigation. Commenting on Bastin (2019), Chazdon and Brancalion (2019) call for holistic approaches because forest restoration is a mechanism to achieve multiple goals that go beyond climate mitigation, also including biodiversity conservation, socioeconomic benefits, food security, and ecosystem services. A timely scientific debate considering the recent decision of the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, to declare the coming decade 2021–2030 the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095633919301996

Land use and climate change impacts on global soil erosion by water (2015-2070)
Resource Type: Maps & Documents, Documents, Publications in Journals
Year: 2020

Soil erosion is a major global soil degradation threat to land, freshwater, and oceans. Wind and water are the major drivers, with water erosion over land being the focus of this work; excluding gullying and river bank erosion. Improving knowledge of the probable future rates of soil erosion, accelerated by human activity, is important both for policy makers engaged in land use decision-making and for earth-system modelers seeking to reduce uncertainty on global predictions. Here we predict future rates of erosion by modeling change in potential global soil erosion by water using three alternative (2.6, 4.5, and 8.5) Shared Socioeconomic Pathway and Representative Concentration Pathway (SSP-RCP) scenarios. Global predictions rely on a high spatial resolution Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE)-based semiempirical modeling approach (GloSEM). The baseline model (2015) predicts global potential soil erosion rates of 43+9.2−7 Pg yr−1, with current conservation agriculture (CA) practices estimated to reduce this by ∼5%. Our future scenarios suggest that socioeconomic developments impacting land use will either decrease (SSP1-RCP2.6–10%) or increase (SSP2-RCP4.5 +2%, SSP5-RCP8.5 +10%) water erosion by 2070. Climate projections, for all global dynamics scenarios, indicate a trend, moving toward a more vigorous hydrological cycle, which could increase global water erosion (+30 to +66%). Accepting some degrees of uncertainty, our findings provide insights into how possible future socioeconomic development will affect soil erosion by water using a globally consistent approach. This preliminary evidence seeks to inform efforts such as those of the United Nations to assess global soil erosion and inform decision makers developing national strategies for soil conservation.

https://www.pnas.org/content/117/36/21994

Integrated management for sustainable cropping systems: Looking beyond the greenhouse balance at the field scale
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2020

Cover crops (CC) promote the accumulation of soil organic carbon (SOC), which provides multiple benefits to agro‐ecosystems. However, additional nitrogen (N) inputs into the soil could offset the CO2 mitigation potential due to increasing N2O emissions. Integrated management approaches use organic and synthetic fertilizers to maximize yields while minimizing impacts by crop sequencing adapted to local conditions. The goal of this work was to test whether integrated management, centered on CC adoption, has the potential to maximize SOC stocks without increasing the soil greenhouse gas (GHG) net flux and other agro‐environmental impacts such as nitrate leaching. To this purpose, we ran the DayCent bio‐geochemistry model on 8,554 soil sampling locations across the European Union. We found that soil N2O emissions could be limited with simple crop sequencing rules, such as switching from leguminous to grass CC when the GHG flux was positive (source). Additional reductions of synthetic fertilizers applications are possible through better accounting for N available in green manures and from mineralization of soil reservoirs while maintaining cash crop yields. Therefore, our results suggest that a CC integrated management approach can maximize the agro‐environmental performance of cropping systems while reducing environmental trade‐offs.

Comparison of sampling with a spade and gouge auger for topsoil monitoring at the continental scale
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2020

The sampling method is a key aspect when designing a soil monitoring network. The determination of any physical and chemical property can be subject to uncertainties because of the sampling method. In this study, we compared the efficiency of sampling with a spade and a gouge auger for the physicochemical characterization of topsoil samples from 150 mineral soils under various land cover (LC) classes in Switzerland taken within the LUCAS 2015 Survey. The sampling methods differed in their scheme, accuracy of litter removal and control of sampling depth, which were more rigorous with the gouge auger than the spade method. Values of root mean square error of properties ranged between 1/2 and 1/30 of their mean values. Lin's concordance correlation coefficient showed that the spade and gouge auger methods produced similar results for all properties (LCCC ≥0.73), with a better relation for arable land than other LC classes. A poor relation was observed for potassium (LCCC = 0.35) in coniferous forest because of its shallow distribution in depth. We concluded that the simpler and cheaper spade method is an accurate method for topsoil sampling at the continental scale. From this study, it is clear that some improvements in the control of sampling depth and the accuracy of litter removal are needed, especially when monitoring forest soils and properties that change rapidly with depth. Spade sampling can help to expand the implementation of soil monitoring surveys at the continental scale at relatively low sampling cost.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ejss.12862

Towards an integrative understanding of soil biodiversity
Resource Type: Maps & Documents, Documents, Publications in Journals
Year: 2020

Soil is one of the most biodiverse terrestrial habitats. Yet, we lack an integrative conceptual framework for understanding the patterns and mechanisms driving soil biodiversity. One of the underlying reasons for our poor understanding of soil biodiversity patterns relates to whether key biodiversity theories (historically developed for aboveground and aquatic organisms) are applicable to patterns of soil biodiversity. Here, we present a systematic literature review to investigate whether and how key biodiversity theories (species–energy relationship, theory of island biogeography, metacommunity theory, niche theory and neutral theory) can explain observed patterns of soil biodiversity. We then discuss two spatial compartments nested within soil at which biodiversity theories can be applied to acknowledge the scale‐dependent nature of soil biodiversity.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/brv.12567

Land susceptibility to water and wind erosion risks in the East Africa region
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2020

Land degradation by water and wind erosion is a serious problem worldwide. Despite the significant amount of research on this topic, quantifying these processes at large- or regional-scale remains difficult. Furthermore, very few studies provide integrated assessments of land susceptibility to both water and wind erosion. Therefore, this study investigated the spatial patterns of water and wind erosion risks, first separately and then combined, in the drought-prone region of East Africa using the best available datasets. As to water erosion, we adopted the spatially distributed version of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation and compared our estimates with plot-scale measurements and watershed sediment yield (SY) data. The order of magnitude of our soil loss estimates by water erosion is within the range of measured plot-scale data. Moreover, despite the fact that SY integrates different soil erosion and sediment deposition processes within watersheds, we observed a strong correlation of SY with our estimated soil loss rates (r2 = 0.4). For wind erosion, we developed a wind erosion index by integrating five relevant factors using fuzzy logic technique. We compared this index with estimates of the frequency of dust storms, derived from long-term Sea-Viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor Level-3 daily data. This comparison revealed an overall accuracy of 70%. According to our estimates, mean annual gross soil loss by water erosion amounts to 4 billion t, with a mean soil loss rate of 6.3 t ha−1 yr−1, of which ca. 50% was found to originate in Ethiopia. In terms of land cover, ca. 50% of the soil loss by water erosion originates from cropland (with a mean soil loss rate of 18.4 t ha−1 yr−1), which covers ca. 15% of the total area in the study region. Model results showed that nearly 10% of the East Africa region is subject to moderate or elevated water erosion risks (>10 t ha−1 yr−1). With respect to wind erosion, we estimated that around 25% of the study area is experiencing moderate or elevated wind erosion risks (equivalent to a frequency of dust storms >45 days yr−1), of which Sudan and Somalia (which are dominated by bare/sparse vegetation cover) have the largest share (ca. 90%). In total, an estimated 8 million ha is exposed to moderate or elevated risks of soil erosion by both water and wind. The results of this study provide new insights on the spatial patterns of water and wind erosion risks in East Africa and can be used to prioritize areas where further investigations are needed and where remedial actions should be implemented.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969719350089

Fire severity and soil erosion susceptibility mapping using multi-temporal Earth Observation data: The case of Mati fatal wildfire in Eastern Attica, Greece
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2020

In recent years, forest fires have increased in terms of frequency, extent and intensity, especially in Mediterranean countries. Climate characteristics and anthropogenic disturbances lead forest environments to display high vulnerability to wildfires, with their sustainability being threatened by the loss of vegetation, changes on soil properties, and increased soil loss rates. Moreover, wildfires are a great threat to property and human life, especially in Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) areas. In light of the impacts and trends mentioned above, this study aims to assess the impact of the Mati, Attika wildfire on soil erosion. The event caused 102 fatalities, inducing severe consequences to the local infrastructure network; economy; and natural resources. As such, the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) was implemented (pre-; post-fire) at the Rafina, Attika watershed encompassing the Mati WUI. Fire severity was evaluated based on the Normalized Burn Ratio (NBR). This index was developed utilizing innovative remotely sensed Earth Observation data (Sentinel-2). The high post-fire values indicate the fire's devastating effects on vegetation loss and soil erosion. A critical “update” was also made to the CORINE Land Cover (CLC) v. 2018, by introducing a new land use class namely “Urban Forest”, in order to distinguish the WUI configuration. Post-fire erosion rates are notably higher throughout the study area (4.53–5.98 t ha−1 y−1), and especially within the WUI zone (3.75–18.58 t ha−1 y−1), while newly developed and highly vulnerable cites now occupy the greater Mati area. Furthermore, archive satellite data (Landsat-5) revealed how the repeated (historical) wildfires have ultimately impacted vegetation recovery and erosional processes. To our knowledge this is the first time that RUSLE is used to simulate soil erosion at a WUI after a fire event, at least at a Mediterranean basin. The realistic results attest that the model can perform well at such diverse conditions, providing a solid basis for soil loss estimation and identification of high-risk erosion areas.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S034181621930462X

An indicator to reflect the mitigating effect of Common Agricultural Policy on soil erosion
Resource Type: Maps & Documents, Documents, Publications in Journals
Year: 2020

This study presents the updated version of the recently published LANDUM model [Land Use Policy 48, 38–50 (2015)]. LANDUM is integrated into the 100 m resolution RUSLE-based pan-European soil erosion risk modelling platform of the European Commission. It estimates the effects of local land use and management practices on the magnitude of soil erosion across each NUTS2 region of the European Union. This is done based on a spatially explicit estimation of the so-called cover-management factor of (R)USLE family models which is also known as C-factor. In this updated version, the data on soil conservation measures (i.e., reduced tillage, cover crops and plant residues) reported in the latest EU Farm Structure Survey (2016) were integrated and elaborated in LANDUM in order to estimate the changes of the C-factor in Europe between 2010 and 2016. For 2016, a C-factor of 0.2316 for the arable land of the 28 Member States of the European Union was estimated. This implies an overall decrease of C-factor of ca. -0.84 % compared to the 2010 survey. The change in C-factor from 2010 to 2016 could be an indication for the effectiveness of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) soil conservation measures in reducing soil erosion in Europe, especially key CAP policies such as Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions and Greening.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S026483771931172X

Reconstruction of past rainfall erosivity and trend detection based on the REDES database and reanalysis rainfall
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2020

Rainfall erosivity is the driving force of soil erosion and it is characterized by a large variability in space and time. In order to obtain robust estimates of rainfall erosivity, long series of high-frequency rainfall data are needed, which are often not available for large study areas. In this study we reconstructed past rainfall erosivity in Europe for the period 1961–2018, with the aim to investigate temporal changes in rainfall erosivity. As input data, we used the Rainfall Erosivity Database at European Scale (REDES) and Uncertainties in Ensembles of Regional Reanalyses (UERRA) rainfall data. Using a set of regression models, which we derived with the application of the k-fold cross-validation approach, we computed the annual rainfall erosivity for the 1675 stations forming the REDES database. Based on the reconstructed data, we derived a rainfall erosivity trend map for Europe where the results were qualitatively validated. Among the stations showing a statistically significant trend, we observed a tendency towards more positive (15%) than negative trends (7%). In addition, we also observed an increasing tendency of the frequency of years with maximum erosivity values. Geographically, large parts of regions such as Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Baltic countries, Great Britain and Ireland, part of the Balkan Peninsula, most of Italy, Benelux countries, northern part of Germany, part of France, among others, are characterized by a positive trend in rainfall erosivity. By contrast, negative trends in annual rainfall erosivity could be observed for most of the Iberian Peninsula, part of France, most of the Alpine area, Southern Germany, and part of the Balkan Peninsula, among others. The new dataset of rainfall erosivity trends reported in this study scientifically provides new information to better understand the impacts of the ongoing erosivity trends on soil erosion across Europe, while, from a policy perspective, the gained findings provide new knowledge to support the development of soil erosion indicators aiming at promoting mitigation measures at regional and pan-European level.

Plutonium aided reconstruction of caesium atmospheric fallout in European topsoils
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2020

Global nuclear weapon testing and the Chernobyl accident have released large amounts of radionuclides into the environment. However, to date, the spatial patterns of these fallout sources remain poorly constrained. Fallout radionuclides (137Cs, 239Pu, 240Pu) were measured in soil samples (n = 160) collected at flat, undisturbed grasslands in Western Europe in the framework of a harmonised European soil survey. We show that both fallout sources left a specific radionuclide imprint in European soils. Accordingly, we used plutonium to quantify contributions of global versus Chernobyl fallout to 137Cs found in European soils. Spatial prediction models allowed for a first assessment of the global versus Chernobyl fallout pattern across national boundaries. Understanding the magnitude of these fallout sources is crucial not only to establish a baseline in case of future radionuclide fallout but also to define a baseline for geomorphological reconstructions of soil redistribution due to soil erosion processes.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-68736-2

Towards an Assessment of the Ephemeral Gully Erosion Potential in Greece Using Google Earth
Resource Type: Maps & Documents, Documents, Publications in Journals
Year: 2020

Gully erosion may cause considerable soil losses and produce large volumes of sediment. The aim of this study was to perform a preliminary assessment on the presence of ephemeral gullies in Greece by sampling representative cultivated fields in 100 sites randomly distributed throughout the country. The almost 30-ha sampling surfaces were examined with visual interpretation of multi-temporal imagery from the online Google Earth for the period 2002–2019. In parallel, rill and sheet erosion signs, land uses, and presence of terraces and other anti-erosion features, were recorded within every sample. One hundred fifty-three ephemeral gullies were identified in total, inside 22 examined agricultural surfaces. The mean length of the gullies was 55.6 m, with an average slope degree of 9.7%. Vineyards showed the largest proportion of gullies followed by olive groves and arable land, while pastures exhibited limited presence of gullies. Spatial clusters of high gully severity were observed in the north and east of the country. In 77% of the surfaces with gullies, there were no terraces, although most of these surfaces were situated in slopes higher than 8%. It was the first time to use visual interpretation with Google Earth image time-series on a country scale producing a gully erosion inventory. Soil conservation practices such as contour farming and terraces could mitigate the risk of gully erosion in agricultural areas

https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/12/2/603

Global phosphorus shortage will be aggravated by soil erosion
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2020

Soil phosphorus (P) loss from agricultural systems will limit food and feed production in the future. Here, we combine spatially distributed global soil erosion estimates (only considering sheet and rill erosion by water) with spatially distributed global P content for cropland soils to assess global soil P loss. The world’s soils are currently being depleted in P in spite of high chemical fertilizer input. Africa (not being able to afford the high costs of chemical fertilizer) as well as South America (due to non-efficient organic P management) and Eastern Europe (for a combination of the two previous reasons) have the highest P depletion rates. In a future world, with an assumed absolute shortage of mineral P fertilizer, agricultural soils worldwide will be depleted by between 4–19 kg ha−1 yr−1, with average losses of P due to erosion by water contributing over 50% of total P losses.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-18326-7

High-Throughput DNA Sequence-Based Analysis of AMF Communities
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2020

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are obligate symbionts of most land plants. They have great ecological and economic impacts as they support plant nutrition and water supply, soil structure, and plant resistance to pathogens. Investigating AMF presence and distribution at small and large scales is critical. Therefore, research requires standard protocols to be easily implemented. In this chapter, we describe a workflow for AMF identification by high-throughput sequencing through Illumina MiSeq platform of two DNA target regions: small subunit (SSU) and internal transcribed spacer (ITS). The protocol can apply to both soil and root AMF communities.

https://link.springer.com/protocol/10.1007%2F978-1-0716-0603-2_9

Blind spots in global soil biodiversity and ecosystem function research
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2020

Soils harbor a substantial fraction of the world’s biodiversity, contributing to many crucial ecosystem functions. It is thus essential to identify general macroecological patterns related to the distribution and functioning of soil organisms to support their conservation and consideration by governance. These macroecological analyses need to represent the diversity of environmental conditions that can be found worldwide. Here we identify and characterize existing environmental gaps in soil taxa and ecosystem functioning data across soil macroecological studies and 17,186 sampling sites across the globe. These data gaps include important spatial, environmental, taxonomic, and functional gaps, and an almost complete absence of temporally explicit data. We also identify the limitations of soil macroecological studies to explore general patterns in soil biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships, with only 0.3% of all sampling sites having both information about biodiversity and function, although with different taxonomic groups and functions at each site. Based on this information, we provide clear priorities to support and expand soil macroecological research.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-17688-2

How afforestation affects the water cycle in drylands: A process‐based comparative analysis
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2020

The world's largest afforestation programs implemented by China made a great contribution to the global “greening up.” These programs have received worldwide attention due to its contribution toward achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. However, emerging studies have suggested that these campaigns, when not properly implemented, resulted in unintended ecological and water security concerns at the regional scale. While mounting evidence shows that afforestation causes substantial reduction in water yield at the watershed scale, process‐based studies on how forest plantations alter the partitioning of rainwater and affect water balance components in natural vegetation are still lacking at the plot scale. This lack of science‐based data prevents a comprehensive understanding of forest‐related ecosystem services such as soil conservation and water supply under climate change. The present study represents the first “Paired Plot” study of the water balance of afforestation on the Loess Plateau. We investigate the effects of forest structure and environmental factors on the full water cycle in a typical multilayer plantation forest composed of black locust, one of the most popular tree species for plantations worldwide. We measure the ecohydrological components of a black locust versus natural grassland on adjacent sites. The startling finding of this study is that, contrary to the general belief, the understory—instead of the overstory—was the main water consumer in this plantation. Moreover, there is a strict physiological regulation of forest transpiration. In contrast to grassland, annual seepage under the forest was minor in years with an average rainfall. We conclude that global long‐term greening efforts in drylands require careful ecohydrologic evaluation so that green and blue water trade‐offs are properly addressed. This is especially important for reforestation‐based watershed land management, that aims at carbon sequestration in mitigating climate change while maintaining regional water security, to be effective on a large scale.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gcb.14875

Soil Evolution and Sustainability
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2020

Soils contribute to major ecosystem services (as defined by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005) by playing a crucial role in provisioning food and fibers, regulating water and geochemical cycles and delivering cultural services. Soils are rich in biodiversity and provide the habitat for a large number of species, many yet to be fully described. Due to this central role of soils in the delivery of ecosystem goods and services, the Soil Security concept was introduced to help Soil Science to be translated into policy guidelines for sustainable development and to be included in the Global Agenda (Koch et al., 2013; Bouma et al., 2019). Soils are indeed keys for reaching many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Especially SDG 2, related to fighting hunger and achieving food security, as well as SDG 15, on protecting the terrestrial environment for future generations, imply the application of sustainable soil management at the global scale. The IPCC report on Climate Change and Land names land and soil degradation through erosion, organic matter decline, contamination, soil sealing, compaction, loss of biodiversity or salinization as key challenges related to land use change (IPCC, 2019). Achieving food security and the elimination of hunger while simultaneously protecting our terrestrial environment is a great challenge that requires extensive, multidisciplinary research, including also human and social sciences: economists, geographers, sociologists, and urban planners.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fenvs.2020.00023/full

The Rise of Climate-Driven Sediment Discharge in the Amazonian River Basin
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2020

The occurrence of hydrological extremes in the Amazon region and the associated sediment loss during rainfall events are key features in the global climate system. Climate extremes alter the sediment and carbon balance but the ecological consequences of such changes are poorly understood in this region. With the aim of examining the interactions between precipitation and landscape-scale controls of sediment export from the Amazon basin, we developed a parsimonious hydro-climatological model on a multi-year series (1997–2014) of sediment discharge data taken at the outlet of Óbidos (Brazil) watershed (the narrowest and swiftest part of the Amazon River). The calibrated model (correlation coefficient equal to 0.84) captured the sediment load variability of an independent dataset from a different watershed (the Magdalena River basin), and performed better than three alternative approaches. Our model captured the interdecadal variability and the long-term patterns of sediment export. In our reconstruction of yearly sediment discharge over 1859–2014, we observed that landscape erosion changes are mostly induced by single storm events, and result from coupled effects of droughts and storms over long time scales. By quantifying temporal variations in the sediment produced by weathering, this analysis enables a new understanding of the linkage between climate forcing and river response, which drives sediment dynamics in the Amazon basin.

https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4433/11/2/208