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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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

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

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

Global mismatches in aboveground and belowground biodiversity
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2019

Human activities are accelerating global biodiversity change and have resulted in severely threatened ecosystem services. A large proportion of terrestrial biodiversity is harbored by soil, but soil biodiversity has been omitted from many global biodiversity assessments and conservation actions, and understanding of global patterns of soil biodiversity remains limited. In particular, the extent to which hotspots and coldspots of aboveground and soil biodiversity overlap is not clear. We examined global patterns of these overlaps by mapping indices of aboveground (mammals, birds, amphibians, vascular plants) and soil (bacteria, fungi, macrofauna) biodiversity that we created using previously published data on species richness. Areas of mismatch between aboveground and soil biodiversity covered 27% of Earth's terrestrial surface. The temperate broadleaf and mixed forests biome had the highest proportion of grid cells with high aboveground biodiversity but low soil biodiversity, whereas the boreal and tundra biomes had intermediate soil biodiversity but low aboveground biodiversity. While more data on soil biodiversity are needed, both to cover geographic gaps and to include additional taxa, our results suggest that protecting aboveground biodiversity may not sufficiently reduce threats to soil biodiversity. Given the functional importance of soil biodiversity and the role of soils in human well‐being, soil biodiversity should be considered further in policy agendas and conservation actions by adapting management practices to sustain soil biodiversity and considering soil biodiversity when designing protected areas

https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/cobi.13311

Harvesting European knowledge on soil functions and land management using multi criteria decision analysis
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2019

Soil and its ecosystem functions play a societal role in securing sustainable food production while safeguarding natural resources. A functional land management framework has been proposed to optimize the agro‐environmental outputs from the land and specifically the supply and demand of soil functions such as (a) primary productivity, (b) carbon sequestration, (c) water purification and regulation, (d) biodiversity and (e) nutrient cycling, for which soil knowledge is essential. From the outset, the LANDMARK multi‐actor research project integrates harvested knowledge from local, national and European stakeholders to develop such guidelines, creating a sense of ownership, trust and reciprocity of the outcomes. About 470 stakeholders from five European countries participated in 32 structured workshops covering multiple land uses in six climatic zones. The harmonized results include stakeholders’ priorities and concerns, perceptions on soil quality and functions, implementation of tools, management techniques, indicators and monitoring, activities and policies, knowledge gaps and ideas. Multi‐criteria decision analysis was used for data analysis. Two qualitative models were developed using Decision EXpert methodology to evaluate “knowledge” and “needs”. Soil quality perceptions differed across workshops, depending on the stakeholder level and regionally established terminologies. Stakeholders had good inherent knowledge about soil functioning, but several gaps were identified. In terms of critical requirements, stakeholders defined high technical, activity and policy needs in (a) financial incentives, (b) credible information on improving more sustainable management practices, (c) locally relevant advice, (d) farmers’ discussion groups, (e) training programmes, (f) funding for applied research and monitoring, and (g) strengthening soil science in education.

Communicating Hydrological Hazard-Prone Areas in Italy With Geospatial Probability Maps
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2019

The recurrence of storm aggressiveness and the associated erosivity density are detrimental hydrological features for soil conservation and planning. The present work illustrates for the first time downscaled spatial pattern probabilities of erosive density to identify damaging hydrological hazard-prone areas in Italy. The hydrological hazard was estimated from the erosivity density exceeded the threshold of 3 MJ ha−1 h−1 at 219 rain gauges in Italy during the three most erosive months of the year, from August to October. To this end, a lognormal kriging (LNPK) provided a soft description of the erosivity density in terms of exceedance probabilities at a spatial resolution of 10 km, which is a way to mitigate the uncertainties associated with the spatial classification of damaging hydrological hazards. Hazard-prone areas cover 65% of the Italian territory in the month of August, followed by September and October with 50 and 30% of the territory, respectively. The geospatial probability maps elaborated with this method achieved an improved spatial forecast, which may contribute to better land-use planning and civil protection both in Italy and potentially in Europe

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fenvs.2019.00193/full

Development of a harmonised soil profile analytical database for Europe: a resource for supporting regional soil management
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2019

Soil mapping is an essential method for obtaining a spatial overview of soil resources that are increasingly threatened by environmental change and population pressure. Despite recent advances in digital soil-mapping techniques based on inference, such methods are still immature for large-scale soil mapping. During the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, soil scientists constructed a harmonised soil map of Europe (1:1 000 000) based on national soil maps. Despite this extraordinary regional overview of the spatial distribution of European soil types, crude assumptions about soil properties were necessary for translating the maps into thematic information relevant to management. To support modellers with analytical data connected to the soil map, the European Soil Bureau Network (ESBW) commissioned the development of the soil profile analytical database for Europe (SPADE) in the late 1980s. This database contains soil analytical data based on a standardised set of soil analytical methods across the European countries. Here, we review the principles adopted for developing the SPADE database during the past five decades, the work towards fulfilling the milestones of full geographic coverage for dominant soils in all the European countries (SPADE level 1) and the addition of secondary soil types (SPADE level 2). We illustrate the application of the database by showing the distribution of the root zone capacity and by estimating the soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks at a depth of 1 m for Europe to be 60×1015 g. The increased accuracy, potentially obtained by including secondary soil types (level 2), is shown in a case study to estimate SOC stocks in Denmark. Until data from systematic cross-European soil-sampling programmes have sufficient spatial coverage for reliable data interpolation, integrating national soil maps and locally assessed analytical data into a harmonised database remains a powerful resource to support soil resources management at regional and continental scales by providing a platform to guide sustainable soil management and food production.

https://soil.copernicus.org/articles/5/289/2019/

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: 2019

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

An evolutionary fuzzy rule-based system applied to the prediction of soil organic carbon from soil spectral libraries
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2019

The recent efforts for obtaining vast soil spectral libraries covering a significant part of the spatial and compositional variability of soils have underscored the need for accurate and interpretable models. Herein, the application of an evolutionary Fuzzy Rule-based System (FRBS) named  (Differential Evolution based Cooperative and Competing learning of Compact Rule-based Models) for the prediction of soil properties from visible, near-infrared, and shortwave-infrared (VNIR–SWIR) laboratory spectral data obtained from the LUCAS topsoil database is investigated. FRBSs model the input–output relation with fuzzy logic statements, offering an enhanced interpretability degree for the experts over classical rule-based systems and other black box models. The proposed algorithm was statistically compared with other state of the art approaches and was found to outperform other global models, while being statistically similar with local approaches that offer lower interpretation capabilities.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568494619302741

Policy instruments for soil protection among the EU member states: A comparative analysis
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2019
Many factors threaten European Soils, and currently, all the Member States (MS) are introducing many types of soil protection measures. Erosion, pollution, sealing and decline of the organic matter are just some of the threats that affect one of the primary non-removable resources of the planet. Soils play a vital role in the biodiversity and are the provider of numerous Ecosystem Services that support human life on Earth. Following the withdrawal of the Soil Framework Directive proposal by the European Commission, we investigate how the different MS of the European Union (EU) address sustainable soil management under the pressures of different threats. The methodology used is based on a gap analysis applied to the instruments and/or policies adopted by the MS to contrast the various threats according to their specific level of intensity. The study presents for the first time a systematic review of the current EU policies covering all the regulatory instruments, the economic instruments, the information tools, the monitoring systems, and the research and innovation activities.
 
The comparative analysis of the different approaches adopted by MS reveals the absence of a common EU strategy to address soil protection and the inefficacy of the subsidiary principle in the sustainable management of soil resources especially in the view of addressing the Sustainable Development Goals achieving the targets by 2030. Results show how the lack of a Soil Framework Directive has weakened the possibility to have strong coordination among the MS for soil protection. Each Country is adopting an autonomous legislative framework which reveals a huge dis-homogeneity and un-coherences among approaches.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264837718307622

 

Carbon sequestration capacity and productivity responses of Mediterranean olive groves under future climates and management options
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2019

The need to reduce the expected impact of climate change, finding sustainable ways to maintain or increase the carbon (C) sequestration capacity and productivity of agricultural systems, is one of the most important challenges of the twenty-first century. Olive (Olea europaea L.) groves can play a fundamental role due to their potential to sequester C in soil and woody compartments, associated with widespread cultivation in the Mediterranean basin. The implementation of field experiments to assess olive grove responses under different conditions, complemented by simulation models, can be a powerful approach to explore future land-atmosphere C feedbacks. The DayCent biogeochemical model was calibrated and validated against observed net ecosystem exchange, net primary productivity, aboveground biomass, leaf area index, and yield in two Italian olive groves. In addition, potential changes in C-sequestration capacity and productivity were assessed under two types of management (extensive and intensive), 35 climate change scenarios (ΔT-temperature from + 0 °C to + 3 °C; ΔP-precipitation from 0.0 to − 20%), and six areas across the Mediterranean basin (Brindisi, Coimbra, Crete, Cordoba, Florence, and Montpellier). The results indicated that (i) the DayCent model, properly calibrated, can be used to quantify olive grove daily net ecosystem exchange and net primary production dynamics; (ii) a decrease in net ecosystem exchange and net primary production is predicted under both types of management by approaching the most extreme climate conditions (ΔT = + 3 °C; ΔP = − 20%), especially in dry and warm areas; (iii) irrigation can compensate for net ecosystem exchange and net primary production losses in almost all areas, while ecophysiological air temperature thresholds determine the magnitude and sign of C-uptake; (iv) future warming is expected to modify the seasonal net ecosystem exchange and net primary production pattern, with higher photosynthetic activity in winter and a prolonged period of photosynthesis inhibition during summer compared to the baseline; (v) a substantial decrease in mitigation capacity and productivity of extensively managed olive groves is expected to accelerate between + 1.5 and + 2 °C warming compared to the current period, across all Mediterranean areas; (vi) adaptation measures aimed at increasing soil water content or evapotranspiration reduction should be considered the mostly suitable for limiting the decrease of both production and mitigation capacity in the next decades

Soil carbon storage informed by particulate and mineral-associated organic matter
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2019
Effective land-based solutions to climate change mitigation require actions that maximize soil carbon storage without generating surplus nitrogen. Land management for carbon sequestration is most often informed by bulk soil carbon inventories, without considering the form in which carbon is stored, its capacity, persistency and nitrogen demand. Here, we present coupling of European-wide databases with soil organic matter physical fractionation to determine continental-scale forest and grassland topsoil carbon and nitrogen stocks and their distribution between mineral-associated and particulate organic matter pools. Grasslands and arbuscular mycorrhizal forests store more soil carbon in mineral-associated organic carbon, which is more persistent but has a higher nitrogen demand and saturates. Ectomycorrhizal forests store more carbon in particulate organic matter, which is more vulnerable to disturbance but has a lower nitrogen demand and can potentially accumulate indefinitely. The share of carbon between mineral-associated and particulate organic matter and the ratio between carbon and nitrogen affect soil carbon stocks and mediate the effects of other variables on soil carbon stocks. Understanding the physical distribution of organic matter in pools of mineral-associated versus particulate organic matter can inform land management for nitrogen-efficient carbon sequestration, which should be driven by the inherent soil carbon capacity and nitrogen availability in ecosystems.
 
Demands on land: mapping competing societal expectations for the functionality of agricultural soils in Europe
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2019

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union (EU) has been highly successful in securing the supply of food from Europe’s agricultural land. However, new expectations have emerged from society on the functions that agricultural land should deliver, including the expectations that land should regulate and purify water, should sequester carbon to contribute to the mitigation of climate change, should provide a home for biodiversity and allow for the sustainable cycling of nutrients in animal and human waste streams. Through a series of reforms of the CAP, these expectations, or ‘societal demands’ have translated into a myriad of EU and national level policies aimed at safeguarding the sustainability and multifunctionality of European agriculture, resulting in a highly complex regulatory environment for land managers. The current reform of the CAP aims to simultaneously simplify and strengthen policy making on environmental protection and climate action, through the development of Strategic Plans at national level, which allow for more targeted and context-specific policy formation. In this paper, we contribute to the knowledge base underpinning the development of these Strategic Plans by mapping the variation in the societal demands for soil functions across EU Member States, based on an extensive review of the existing policy environment relating to sustainable and multifunctional land management. We show that the societal demands for primary production, water regulation and purification, carbon sequestration, biodiversity and nutrient cycling vary greatly between Member States, as determined by population, farming systems and livestock densities, geo-environmental conditions and landscape configuration. Moreover, the total societal demands for multifunctionality differs between Member States, with the lowest demands found in Member States that have designated the higher shares of EU CAP funding towards ‘Pillar 2′ expenditure, aimed at environmental protection and regional development. We review which lessons can be learnt from these observations, in the context of the proposals for the new CAP for the period 2021–2027, which include enhanced conditionality of direct income support for farmers and the instigation of eco-schemes in Pillar 1, in addition to Agri-Environmental and Climate Measures in Pillar 2. We conclude that the devolution of planning to Strategic Plans at national level provides an opportunity for more effective and targeted incentivisation of sustainable land management, provided that these plans take account for variations in the societal demand for soil functions, as well as the capacity of contrasting soils to deliver on this multifunctionality.

A linkage between the biophysical and the economic: Assessing the global market impacts of soil erosion
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2019

Employing a linkage between a biophysical and an economic model, this study estimates the economic impact of soil erosion by water on the world economy. The global biophysical model estimates soil erosion rates, which are converted into land productivity losses and subsequently inserted into a global market simulation model. The headline result is that soil erosion by water is estimated to incur a global annual cost of eight billion US dollars to global GDP. The concomitant impact on food security is to reduce global agri-food production by 33.7 million tonnes with accompanying rises in agri-food world prices of 0.4%–3.5%, depending on the food product category. Under pressure to use more marginal land, abstracted water volumes are driven upwards by an estimated 48 billion cubic meters. Finally, there is tentative evidence that soil erosion is accelerating the competitive shifts in comparative advantage on world agri-food markets.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264837718319343

Integrated management for sustainable cropping systems: Looking beyond the greenhouse balance at the field scale
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2019
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.
 

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/gcb.14989

Soil erosion modelling: The new challenges as the result of policy developments in Europe
Resource Type: Maps & Documents, Documents, Publications in Journals
Year: 2019

New challenges and policy developments after 2015 (among others, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)) are opportunities for soil scientists and soil erosion modellers to respond with more accurate assessments and solutions as to how to reduce soil erosion and furthermore, how to reach Zero Net Land Degradation targets by 2030. This special issue includes papers concerning the use of fallout for estimating soil erosion, new wind erosion modelling techniques, the importance of extreme events (forest fires, intense rainfall) in accelerating soil erosion, management practices to reduce soil erosion in vineyards, the impact of wildfires in erosion, updated methods for estimating soil erodibility, comparisons between sediment distribution models, the application of the WaTEM/SEDEM model in Europe, a review of the G2 model and a proposal for a land degradation modelling approach. New data produced from field surveys such as LUCAS topsoil and the increasing availability of remote sensing data may facilitate the work of erosion modellers. Finally, better integration with other soil related disciplines (soil carbon, biodiversity, compaction and contamination) and Earth Systems modelling is the way forward for a new generation of erosion process models.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935119301264

Using the USLE: Chances, challenges and limitations of soil erosion modelling
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2019

To give soils and soil degradation, which are among the most crucial threats to ecosystem stability, social and political visibility, small and large scale modelling and mapping of soil erosion is inevitable. The most widely used approaches during an 80year history of erosion modelling are Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE)-type based algorithms which have been applied in 109 countries. Addressing soil erosion by water (excluding gully erosion and land sliding), we start this review with a statistical evaluation of nearly 2,000 publications). We discuss model developments which use USLE-type equations as basis or side modules, but we also address recent development of the single USLE parameters (R, K, LS, C, P). Importance, aim and limitations of model validation as well as a comparison of USLE-type models with other erosion assessment tools are discussed. Model comparisons demonstrate that the application of process-based physical models (e.g., WEPP or PESERA) does not necessarily result in lower uncertainties compared to more simple structured empirical models such as USLE-type algorithms. We identified four key areas for future research: (i) overcoming the principally different nature of modelled (gross) versus measured (net) erosion rates, in coupling on-site erosion risk to runoff patterns, and depositional regime, (ii) using the recent increase in spatial resolution of remote sensing data to develop process based models for large scale applications, (iii) strengthen and extend measurement and monitoring programs to build up validation data sets, and (iv) rigorous uncertainty assessment and the application of objective evaluation criteria to soil erosion modelling.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095633919300048

Soil loss due to crop harvesting in the European Union: A first estimation of an underrated geomorphic process
Resource Type: Maps & Documents, Documents, Publications in Journals
Year: 2019

Over the last two decades or so, there has been many research carried out to understand the mechanics and spatial distribution of soil loss by water erosion and to a lesser extent of wind, piping and tillage erosion. The acquired knowledge helped the development of prediction tools useful to support decision-makers in both ex-ante and ex-post policy evaluation. In Europe, recent studies have modelled water, wind and tillage erosion at continental scale and shed new light on their geography. However, to acquire a comprehensive picture of soil erosion threats more processes need to be addressed and made visible to decision-makers. Since 1986, a small number of studies have pointed to an additional significant soil degradation process occurring when harvesting root and tuber crops. Field observations and measurements have shown that considerable amounts of soil can be removed from the field due to soil sticking to the harvested roots and the export of soil clods during the crop harvest. This study aims to scale up the findings of past studies, carried out at plot, regional, and national level, in order to obtain some preliminary insights into the magnitude of soil loss from cropland due to sugar beets and potatoes harvesting in Europe. We address this issue at European Union (EU) scale taking into account long-term (1975–2016) crop statistics of sugar beet and potato aggregated at regional and country levels.

During the period 2000–2016, sugar beets and potatoes covered in average ca. 4.2 million ha (3.81%) of the EU-28 arable land estimated at 110 million ha. The total Soil Loss by Crop Harvesting (SLCH) is estimated at ca. 14.7 million tons yr−1 in the EU-28. We estimate that ca. 65% of the total SLCH is due to harvesting of sugar beets and the rest as a result of potatoes harvesting.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969719304887

Mapping LUCAS topsoil chemical properties at European scale using Gaussian process regression
Resource Type: Maps & Documents, Documents, Publications in Journals
Year: 2019
This paper presents the second part of the mapping of topsoil properties based on the Land Use and Cover Area frame Survey (LUCAS). The first part described the physical properties (Ballabio et al., 2016) while this second part includes the following chemical properties: pH, Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC), calcium carbonates (CaCO3), C:N ratio, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). The LUCAS survey collected harmonised data on changes in land cover and the state of land use for the European Union (EU). Among the 270,000 land use and cover observations selected for field visit, approximately 20,000 soil samples were collected in 24 EU Member States in 2009 together with more than 2000 samples from Bulgaria and Romania in 2012. The chemical properties maps for the European Union were produced using Gaussian process regression (GPR) models. GPR was selected for its capacity to assess model uncertainty and the possibility of adding prior knowledge in the form of covariance functions to the model.
The derived maps will establish baselines that will help monitor soil quality and provide guidance to agro-environmental research and policy developments in the European Union.
The challenge for the soil science community to contribute to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2019

Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by 193 Governments at the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2015 for achievement by 2030. These SDGs present a roadmap to a sustainable future and a challenge to the science community. To guide activities and check progress, targets and indicators have been and are still being defined. The soil science community has published documents that describe the primary importance of soil for SDGs addressing hunger, water quality, climate mitigation and biodiversity preservation, and secondary relevance of soil for addressing several other SDGs. Soil scientists only marginally participated in the SDG discussions and are currently only peripherally engaged in discussions on targets or indicators. Agreement on several soil‐related indicators has still not been achieved. Involvement of soil scientists in SDG‐based studies is desirable for both developing solutions and increasing the visibility of the soil profession. Inputs into policy decisions should be improved as SDG committee members are appointed by Governments. Possible contributions of soil science in defining indicators for the SDGs are explored in this paper. We advocate the pragmatic use of soil–water–atmosphere–plant simulation models and available soil surveys and soil databases where “representative” soil profiles for mapping units (genetically defined genoforms) are functionally expressed in terms of several phenoforms reflecting effects of different types of soil use and management that strongly affect functionality.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/sum.12518

Object‐oriented soil erosion modelling: A possible paradigm shift from potential to actual risk assessments in agricultural environments
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2018

Over the last 2 decades, geospatial technologies such as Geographic Information System and spatial interpolation methods have facilitated the development of increasingly accurate spatially explicit assessments of soil erosion. Despite these advances, current modelling approaches rest on (a) an insufficient definition of the proportion of arable land that is exploited for crop production and (b) a neglect of the intra‐annual variability of soil cover conditions in arable land. To overcome these inaccuracies, this study introduces a novel spatio‐temporal approach to compute an enhanced cover‐management factor (C) for revised universal soil loss equation‐based models. It combines highly accurate agricultural parcel information contained in the Land Parcel Identification System with an object‐oriented Landsat imagery classification technique to assess spatial conditions and interannual variability of soil cover conditions at field scale. With its strong link to Land Parcel Identification System and Earth observation satellite data, the approach documents an unprecedented representation of farming operations. This opens the door for the transition from the currently used potential soil erosion risk assessments towards the assessment of the actual soil erosion risk. Testing this method in a medium‐size catchment located in the Swiss Plateau (Upper Enziwigger River Catchment), this study lays an important foundation for the application of the very same methods for large‐scale or even pan‐European applications. Soil loss rates modelled in this study were compared with the insights gained from emerging techniques to differentiate sediment source contribution through compound‐specific isotope analysis on river sediments. The presented technique is adaptable beyond revised universal soil loss equation‐type soil erosion models.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ldr.2898

Managing Mediterranean soil resources under global change: expected trends and mitigation strategies
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2018

The soils of the Mediterranean Basin are the products of soil processes that have been governed by a unique convergence of highly differentiated natural and anthropogenic drivers. These soils are expected to be dramatically affected by future climate and societal changes. These changes imply that suitable adaptive management strategies for these resources cannot simply be transposed from experiments that are performed in other regions of the world. Following a framework that considers the chain of “drivers-soil process-soil capital-ecosystem services/disservices,” the paper review the research undertaken in the Mediterranean area on three types of Mediterranean soil degradation than can be expected under global change: (i) soil losses due to the increase of drought and torrential rainfall; (ii) soil salinization due the increase of droughts, irrigation, and sea level; and (iii) soil carbon stock depletion with the increase of temperature and droughts. The possible strategies for mitigating each of these degradations have been largely addressed and are still studied in current research projects. They should include changes in agricultural practices, soil water management, and vegetal material. As a pre-requisite for the site-specific adaptations of such mitigation strategies within viable Mediterranean agrosystems, it is highlighted that methodological advances are necessary in integrated assessment of agricultural systems and in finer resolution soil mapping.

Global gaps in soil biodiversity data
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2018
 Soil biodiversity represents a major terrestrial biodiversity pool, supports key ecosystem services and is under pressure from human activities1. Yet soil biodiversity has been neglected from many global biodiversity assessments and policies. This omission is undoubtedly related to the paucity of comprehensive information on soil biodiversity, particularly on larger spatial scales. Information on belowground species distributions, population trends, endemism and threats to belowground diversity is important for conservation prioritization, but is practically non-existent. As a consequence, much of our understanding of global macroecological patterns in biodiversity, as well as mapping of global biodiversity hotspots, has been based on aboveground taxa (such as plants2) and has not considered the functionally vital, but less visible, biodiversity found in soil.
 
We mapped the study sites from existing global datasets on soil biodiversity (soil macrofauna3, fungi4 and bacteria5) to examine key data gaps (Fig. 1). Our map indicates significant gaps in soil biodiversity data across northern latitudes, including most of Russia and Canada. Data are also lacking from much of central Asia and central Africa (for example, the Sahara Desert), as well as many tropical regions. The higher density of soil biodiversity sampling sites in Europe and the United States is similar to patterns observed for data on terrestrial bird, mammal and amphibian species6, as well as plants7. Yet, in such aboveground datasets, the gaps in understudied regions are much less pronounced than in the soil biodiversity datasets shown here. The comparative lack of soil biodiversity data across these regions limits our ability to examine global macroecological patterns and to quantify potential mismatches between aboveground and soil biodiversity. The potential for such mismatches (areas with high aboveground diversity, but low soil biodiversity, or vice versa) may be substantial, as evidence suggests that plant species richness declines more rapidly towards the North Pole than fungal species richness, which reaches a plateau.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0573-8

Pan-European landslide susceptibility mapping: ELSUS Version 2
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2018

We present an updated version of the European landslide susceptibility map ELSUS 1000 released through the European Soil Data Centre in 2013. The ELSUS V2 map shows the landslide susceptibility zonation for individual climate-physiographic zones across Europe. ELSUS V2 covers a larger area of Europe than ELSUS 1000 at a higher spatial resolution (200 × 200 m). The updated map was prepared using the same semi-quantitative method as for ELSUS 1000, combining landslide frequency ratios information with a spatial multi-criteria evaluation model of three thematic predictors: slope angle, shallow subsurface lithology and land cover. However, the new map was prepared using also: (i) an extended landslide inventory, containing 30% of additional locations for model calibration, map validation and classification and (ii) a new lithological data set derived from the International Hydrogeological Map of Europe (IHME). The new version of the map increases the overall predictive performance of ELSUS by 8%.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17445647.2018.1432511

Soil: how much do we value this critical resource?
Resource Type: Maps & Documents, Documents, Scientific-Technical Reports
Country: IT
Author: JRC’s NC-SOIL project
Year: 2018
Publisher: European Commission
Attachments: PDF icon JRC_highlights_eBook

Soil condition underpins food security, green growth, bioeconomies and aboveground biodiversity; it regulates climate, the hydrological and nutrient cycles, while  mitigating climate change. Soils provide resilience against floods and droughts, buffer the effects of pollutants and preserve cultural heritage. Healthy, functional soils underpin several targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Pressures on this finite, non-renewable resource, due to competition for land or inappropriate land management choices, severely impact soil functions. Amplified by climate change, these pressures lead to degradation processes such as erosion, contamination, loss of organic matter, shallow landsliding and, in extreme cases, a complete loss of the resource.

https://esdac.jrc.ec.europa.eu/public_path/shared_folder/doc_pub/JRC_Soil_Highlights_eBook_0.pdf