Probing the basis of soil resilience

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Corstanje, R., Deeks, L. R., Whitmore, A. P., Gregory, A. S. and Ritz, K. 2015. Probing the basis of soil resilience. Soil Use and Management. 31 (Suppl. 1), pp. 72-81.

AuthorsCorstanje, R., Deeks, L. R., Whitmore, A. P., Gregory, A. S. and Ritz, K.

Soils need to be resilient to deliver the functions required of them when subjected to perturbations within the context of short- and long-term environmental change. A better understanding of the basis of resilience will likely underpin improved management of poorer soils to enhance their resilience, as well as allowing effective management of all soils in the longer term. In this study, resilience was defined as resistance (degree of change) coupled with recovery (rate and extent of subsequent recovery) from a disturbance. Modelling of factors that drive resilience of a prescribed physical (void ratio) and biological (respiration) soil function was carried out on published data pertaining to 38 English and Scottish soils. This revealed that soil taxonomic class, parent material and soil texture appeared dominant in determining soil resilience in general, and aspects of the soil microbial community were also pertinent. It is notable that land use and organic matter content, which are commonly hypothesized to be influential in this regard, ranked amongst the lowest significant factors. However, these conclusions are based upon the very limited coherent data sets currently available. The key implication of an apparent context dependency of the resistance and resilience phenomena is that management of them is likely to be possible, but not via a single or direct approach. It may require specific approaches in particular circumstances, and it is possible that the system-level configuration of the soil is of greater consequence than individual factors. Hence, a system-level approach to management of soils is likely to be the most effective strategy, and this should be considered in developing policy scenarios in relation to soil management.

KeywordsSoil Science
Year of Publication2015
JournalSoil Use and Management
Journal citation31 (Suppl. 1), pp. 72-81
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as non-open access
FunderDEFRA - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs UK
Funder project or codeDelivering Sustainable Systems (SS) [ISPG]
Quantifying Sustainable Systems
Project: 5100
Soil functions, quality and degradation studies in support of the implementation of the Soil Strategy for England
Modelling soil physical and biogeochemical processes
Grant IDSP1605

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