The role of citizen science in meeting SDG targets around soil health

Head, Josephine S.; Crockatt, Martha E.; Didarali, Zahra; Woodward, Mary-Jane; Emmett, Bridget A. ORCID: 2020 The role of citizen science in meeting SDG targets around soil health. Sustainability, 12 (24), 10254. 20, pp.

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Healthy soils are vital for sustainable development, yet consistent soil monitoring is scarce, and soils are poorly represented in United Nations Sustainable Development Goals targets and indicators. There is a clear need for specific ambitions on soil health, accompanying metrics, and cost-effective monitoring methodologies. In this paper, we review citizen science methods and platforms which could compliment structured soil monitoring programmes and contribute to filling this knowledge gap. We focussed on soil structure, organic carbon, biodiversity, nutrients, and vegetation cover. Each method was classified as red, amber, or green (RAG) in terms of time requirements, cost, and data reliability. Toolkits were assessed in terms of cost and requirement for specialist kit. We found 32 methods across the five indicators. Three soil monitoring methods scored green on all criteria, and 20 (63%) scored green on two criteria. We found 13 toolkits appropriate for citizen science monitoring of soil health. Three of them are free, easy to use, and do not require specialist equipment. Our review revealed multiple citizen science methods and toolkits for each of the five soil health indicators. This should pave the way towards a cost-effective, joined-up approach on soil health, informing national and international policy and supporting the move towards farmer-led, data-driven decision-making.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Soils and Land Use (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 2071-1050
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: soil health, citizen science, sustainable development goals, participatory monitoring, soil monitoring
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 20 Dec 2020 18:27 +0 (UTC)

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