Publications in Journals

Peer review Papers published in International Journals and Magazines.

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). An important number of papers has been published in high impact factor journals: Nature, Nature Climate Change, Nature Communications, Science Advances, Science, PNAS, Global Change Biology, Science of the Total Environment, etc.

The publications are relevant to soil themes, functions and threats. The datasets generated during and/or analysed during most of the presented studies are available in the ESDAC datasets section. Almost all the publications are Open Access. 

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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

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.
 
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

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

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

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.

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

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

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.
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

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.

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

 

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

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

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/

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

Mitigation potential of soil carbon management overestimated by neglecting N2O emissions
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2018
International initiatives such as the ‘4 per 1000’ are promoting enhanced carbon (C) sequestration in agricultural soils as a way to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions1. However, changes in soil organic C turnover feed back into the nitrogen (N) cycle2, meaning that variation in soil nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions may offset or enhance C sequestration actions3. Here we use a biogeochemistry model on approximately 8,000 soil sampling locations in the European Union4 to quantify the net CO2 equivalent (CO2e) fluxes associated with representative C-mitigating agricultural practices. Practices based on integrated crop residue retention and lower soil disturbance are found to not increase N2O emissions as long as C accumulation continues (until around 2040), thereafter leading to a moderate C sequestration offset mostly below 47% by 2100. The introduction of N-fixing cover crops allowed higher C accumulation over the initial 20 years, but this gain was progressively offset by higher N2O emissions over time. By 2060, around half of the sites became a net source of greenhouse gases. We conclude that significant CO2 mitigation can be achieved in the initial 20–30 years of any C management scheme, but after that N inputs should be controlled through appropriate management.
 
Soil organic carbon estimation in croplands by hyperspectral remote APEX data using the LUCAS topsoil database
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2018

The most commonly used approach to estimate soil variables from remote-sensing data entails time-consuming and expensive data collection including chemical and physical laboratory analysis. Large spectral libraries could be exploited to decrease the effort of soil variable estimation and obtain more widely applicable models. We investigated the feasibility of a new approach, referred to as bottom-up, to provide soil organic carbon (SOC) maps of bare cropland fields over a large area without recourse to chemical analyses, employing both the pan-European topsoil database from the Land Use/Cover Area frame statistical Survey (LUCAS) and Airborne Prism Experiment (APEX) hyperspectral airborne data. This approach was tested in two areas having different soil characteristics: the loam belt in Belgium, and the Gutland–Oesling region in Luxembourg. Partial least square regression (PLSR) models were used in each study area to estimate SOC content, using both bottom-up and traditional approaches. The PLSR model’s accuracy was tested on an independent validation dataset. Both approaches provide SOC maps having a satisfactory level of accuracy (RMSE = 1.5–4.9 g·kg−1; ratio of performance to deviation (RPD) = 1.4–1.7) and the inter-comparison did not show differences in terms of RMSE and RPD either in the loam belt or in Luxembourg. Thus, the bottom-up approach based on APEX data provided high-resolution SOC maps over two large areas showing the within- and between-field SOC variability

https://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/10/2/153

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

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

Cost of agricultural productivity loss due to soil erosion in the European Union: From direct cost evaluation approaches to the use of macroeconomic models
Resource Type: Maps & Documents, Documents, Publications in Journals
Year: 2018

Much research has been carried out on modelling soil erosion rates under different climatic and land use conditions. Although some studies have addressed the issue of reduced crop productivity due to soil erosion, few have focused on the economic loss in terms of agricultural production and gross domestic product (GDP). In this study, soil erosion modellers and economists come together to carry out an economic evaluation of soil erosion in the European Union (EU). The study combines biophysical and macroeconomic models to estimate the cost of agricultural productivity loss due to soil erosion by water in the EU. The soil erosion rates, derived from the RUSLE2015 model, are used to estimate the loss in crop productivity (physical change in the production of plants) and to model their impact on the agricultural sector per country. A computable general equilibrium model is then used to estimate the impact of crop productivity change on agricultural production and GDP. The 12 million hectares of agricultural areas in the EU that suffer from severe erosion are estimated to lose around 0.43% of their crop productivity annually. The annual cost of this loss in agricultural productivity is estimated at around €1.25 billion. The computable general equilibrium model estimates the cost in the agricultural sector to be close to €300 million and the loss in GDP to be about €155 million. Italy emerges as the country that suffers the highest economic impact, whereas the agricultural sector in most Northern and Central European countries is only marginally affected by soil erosion losses.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ldr.2879

Model-based spatio-temporal analysis of land desertification risk in Greece
Resource Type: Documents, Publications in Journals, Maps & Documents
Year: 2018

Land desertification is recognized as a major threat to soil resources in arid, semi-arid Mediterranean areas. The use of widely applicable methodologies can facilitate the identification of land desertification risk spatio-temporal trends, which allows transnational comparison and support the development of soil management practices and policies, protecting the valuable soil resources. The aim of this study is to improve and use the Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) MEDALUS methodology, in order to provide a qualitative assessment for desertification risk trends in Greece, within the last 45 years. The Management, Vegetation, Soil and Climate quality indices (MQI, VQI, SQI, CQI) and the sub-sequent Environmental Sensitive Areas Index (ESAI) have been modeled for three periods in the entire Greek territory. The four quality indices are divided in two main categories, based on data availability and inherent characteristics, such as the pace of change during the studied period. Particular emphasis is given to the assessment of MQI, by integrating criteria which derived from national policies and the elaboration of national statistical data. The results show about 9% increase of the areas characterized as Critical to land desertification risk, while Fragile, Potentially affected and Non-affected areas decrease by 3.7%, 3.6%, 2.5% respectively. The applied approach for MQI can reveal areas where particular attention to management practices is required and improves the performance of the overall desertification risk index.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0341816218301577

Potential Sources of Anthropogenic Copper Inputs to European Agricultural Soils
Resource Type: Maps & Documents, Documents, Publications in Journals
Year: 2018

In the European Union (EU), copper concentration in agricultural soil stems from anthropogenic activities and natural sources (soil and geology). This manuscript reports a statistical comparison of copper concentrations at different levels of administrative units, with a focus on agricultural areas. Anthropogenic sources of diffuse copper contamination include fungicidal treatments, liquid manure (mainly from pigs), sewage sludge, atmospheric deposition, mining activities, local industrial contamination and particles from car brakes. Sales of fungicides in the EU are around 158,000 tonnes annually, a large proportion of which are copper based and used extensively in vineyards and orchards. Around 10 million tonnes of sewage sludge is treated annually in the EU, and 40% of this (which has a high copper content) is used as fertilizer in agriculture. In the EU, 150 million pigs consume more than 6.2 million tonnes of copper through additives in their feed, and most of their liquid manure ends up in agricultural soil. These three sources (sales of fungicides, sewage sludge and copper consumption for pigs feed) depend much on local traditional farming practices. Recent research towards replacing copper spraying in vineyards and policy developments on applying sewage and controlling the feed given to pigs are expected to reduce copper accumulation in agricultural soil.

https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/10/7/2380

A step towards a holistic assessment of soil degradation in Europe: Coupling on-site erosion with sediment transfer and carbon fluxes
Resource Type: Maps & Documents, Documents, Publications in Journals
Year: 2018

Soil degradation due to erosion is connected to two serious environmental impacts: (i) on-site soil loss and (ii) off-site effects of sediment transfer through the landscape. The potential impact of soil erosion processes on biogeochemical cycles has received increasing attention in the last two decades. Properly designed modelling assumptions on effective soil loss are a key pre-requisite to improve our understanding of the magnitude of nutrients that are mobilized through soil erosion and the resultant effects. The aim of this study is to quantify the potential spatial displacement and transport of soil sediments due to water erosion at European scale. We computed long-term averages of annual soil loss and deposition rates by means of the extensively tested spatially distributed WaTEM/SEDEM model. Our findings indicate that soil loss from Europe in the riverine systems is about 15% of the estimated gross on-site erosion. The estimated sediment yield totals 0.164 ± 0.013 Pg yr−1 (which corresponds to 4.62 ± 0.37 Mg ha−1 yr−1 in the erosion area). The greatest amount of gross on-site erosion as well as soil loss to rivers occurs in the agricultural land (93.5%). By contrast, forestland and other semi-natural vegetation areas experience an overall surplus of sediments which is driven by a re-deposition of sediments eroded from agricultural land. Combining the predicted soil loss rates with the European soil organic carbon (SOC) stock, we estimate a SOC displacement by water erosion of 14.5 Tg yr−1. The SOC potentially transferred to the riverine system equals to 2.2 Tg yr−1 (~15%). Integrated sediment delivery-biogeochemical models need to answer the question on how carbon mineralization during detachment and transport might be balanced or even off-set by carbon sequestration due to dynamic replacement and sediment burial.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935117308137