Czech researchers use model to evaluate soil degradation

By Kaine Korzekwa, Crop Science Society of America

Soil is strong yet fragile, reliable yet unstable, and resilient yet susceptible to change.

These are all especially true when humans and their need for food enter the mix. Large amounts of evidence show soils are declining worldwide because of poor land use practices and soil management.

To study the issue of soil degradation in the Czech Republic, Borivoj Sarapatka and his team at Palacký University developed a way to model soil vulnerability by combining several indicators of soil degradation.Their work was recently published online in the Journal of Environmental Quality.

Various organizations have performed long-term research throughout the Czech Republic on the individual factors that can damage soil. But no one has synthesized these findings into a model to illustrate the current state of Czech soil. Sarapatka and his team set out to combine different databases into a robust, comprehensive, and first-of-its-kind model.

To do this, the researchers identified two categories of degradation factors: physical and chemical. The physical factors consist of water and wind erosion and soil compaction. The chemical factors include heavy metal contamination, soil acidification, and loss of organic matter.

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