Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 541448
Title Soil resources and element stocks in drylands to face global issues
Author(s) Plaza, César; Zaccone, Claudio; Sawicka, Kasia; Méndez, Ana M.; Tarquis, Ana; Gascó, Gabriel; Heuvelink, Gerard B.M.; Schuur, Edward A.G.; Maestre, Fernando T.
Source Scientific Reports 8 (2018)1. - ISSN 2045-2322
Department(s) PE&RC
Soil Geography and Landscape
ISRIC - World Soil Information
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2018

Drylands (hyperarid, arid, semiarid, and dry subhumid ecosystems) cover almost half of Earth’s land surface and are highly vulnerable to environmental pressures. Here we provide an inventory of soil properties including carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) stocks within the current boundaries of drylands, aimed at serving as a benchmark in the face of future challenges including increased population, food security, desertification, and climate change. Aridity limits plant production and results in poorly developed soils, with coarse texture, low C:N and C:P, scarce organic matter, and high vulnerability to erosion. Dryland soils store 646 Pg of organic C to 2 m, the equivalent of 32% of the global soil organic C pool. The magnitude of the historic loss of C from dryland soils due to human land use and cover change and their typically low C:N and C:P suggest high potential to build up soil organic matter, but coarse soil textures may limit protection and stabilization processes. Restoring, preserving, and increasing soil organic matter in drylands may help slow down rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide by sequestering C, and is strongly needed to enhance food security and reduce the risk of land degradation and desertification.

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