A review of the impacts of degradation threats on soil properties in the UK

Gregory, A.S. and Ritz, Karl. and McGrath, S.P. and Quinton, J.N. and Goulding, K.W.T. and Jones, R.J.A. and Harris, J.A. and Bol, R. and Wallace, P. and Pilgrim, E.S. and Whitmore, A.P. (2015) A review of the impacts of degradation threats on soil properties in the UK. Soil Use and Mangement, 31 (S1). pp. 1-15. ISSN 1475-2743

PDF - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (354kB) | Preview


National governments are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of their soil resources and are shaping strategies accordingly. Implicit in any such strategy is that degradation threats and their potential effect on important soil properties and functions are defined and understood. In this paper, we aimed to review the principal degradation threats on important soil properties in the UK, seeking quantitative data where possible. Soil erosion results in the removal of important topsoil and, with it, nutrients, C and porosity. A decline in soil organic matter principally affects soil biological and microbiological properties, but also impacts on soil physical properties because of the link with soil structure. Soil contamination affects soil chemical properties, affecting nutrient availability and degrading microbial properties, whilst soil compaction degrades the soil pore network. Soil sealing removes the link between the soil and most of the ‘spheres’, significantly affecting hydrological and microbial functions, and soils on re-developed brownfield sites are typically degraded in most soil properties. Having synthesized the literature on the impact on soil properties, we discuss potential subsequent impacts on the important soil functions, including food and fibre production, storage of water and C, support for biodiversity, and protection of cultural and archaeological heritage. Looking forward, we suggest a twin approach of field-based monitoring supported by controlled laboratory experimentation to improve our mechanistic understanding of soils. This would enable us to better predict future impacts of degradation processes, including climate change, on soil properties and functions so that we may manage soil resources sustainably.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Gregory, A. S., Ritz, K., McGrath, S. P., Quinton, J. N., Goulding, K. W. T., Jones, R. J. A., Harris, J. A., Bol, R., Wallace, P., Pilgrim, E. S. and Whitmore, A. P. (2015), A review of the impacts of degradation threats on soil properties in the UK. Soil Use and Management, 31: 1–15, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/sum.12212. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Keywords: Soil erosion; soil organic matter; soil contamination; soil compaction; soil functions; climate change
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham UK Campus > Faculty of Science > School of Biosciences > Division of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1111/sum.12212
Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2016 10:45
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2016 12:46
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/35079

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View