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Soil quality assessment under emerging regulatory requirements

Bone, James; Head, Martin; Barraclough, Declan; Archer, Michael; Scheib, Catherine; Flight, Dee; Voulvoulis, Nikolaos. 2010 Soil quality assessment under emerging regulatory requirements. Environment International, 36 (6). 609-622. 10.1016/j.envint.2010.04.010

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Abstract/Summary

New and emerging policies that aim to set standards for protection and sustainable use of soil are likely to require identification of geographical risk/priority areas. Soil degradation can be seen as the change or disturbance in soil quality and it is therefore crucial that soil and soil quality are well understood to protect soils and to meet legislative requirements. To increase this understanding a review of the soil quality definition evaluated its development, with a formal scientific approach to assessment beginning in the 1970s, followed by a period of discussion and refinement. A number of reservations about soil quality assessment expressed in the literature are summarised. Taking concerns into account, a definition of soil quality incorporating soil's ability to meet multifunctional requirements, to provide ecosystem services, and the potential for soils to affect other environmental media is described. Assessment using this definition requires a large number of soil function dependent indicators that can be expensive, laborious, prone to error, and problematic in comparison. Findings demonstrate the need for a method that is not function dependent, but uses a number of cross-functional indicators instead. This method to systematically prioritise areas where detailed investigation is required, using a ranking based against a desired level of action, could be relatively quick, easy and cost effective. As such this has potential to fill in gaps and compliment existing monitoring programs and assist in development and implementation of current and future soil protection legislation.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.envint.2010.04.010
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2010 > Climate Change Science
ISSN: 0160-4120
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 14 Sep 2010 10:38
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/10990

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