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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    We will mail you new results for this query: keywords==Soil quality
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Influence of microplastic addition on glyphosate decay and soil microbial activities in Chinese loess soil
Yang, Xiaomei ; Bento, Célia P.M. ; Chen, Hao ; Zhang, Hongming ; Xue, Sha ; Lwanga, Esperanza H. ; Zomer, Paul ; Ritsema, Coen J. ; Geissen, Violette - \ 2018
Environmental Pollution 242 (2018). - ISSN 0269-7491 - p. 338 - 347.
Glyphosate - Microplastic - Pesticide decay - Soil microbial activities - Soil quality

The intensive use of pesticide and plastic mulches has considerably enhanced crop growth and yield. Pesticide residues and plastic debris, however, have caused serious environmental problems. This study investigated the effects of the commonly used herbicide glyphosate and micrometre-sized plastic debris, referred as microplastics, on glyphosate decay and soil microbial activities in Chinese loess soil by a microcosm experiment over 30 days incubation. Results showed that glyphosate decay was gradual and followed a single first-order decay kinetics model. In different treatments (with/without microplastic addition), glyphosate showed similar half-lives (32.8 days). The soil content of aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), the main metabolite of glyphosate, steadily increased without reaching plateau and declining phases throughout the experiment. Soil microbial respiration significantly changed throughout the entirety of the experiment, particularly in the treatments with higher microplastic addition. The dynamics of soil β-glucosidase, urease and phosphatase varied, especially in the treatments with high microplastic addition. Particles that were considerably smaller than the initially added microplastic particles were observed after 30 days incubation. This result thus implied that microplastic would hardly affect glyphosate decay but smaller plastic particles accumulated in soils which potentially threaten soil quality would be further concerned especially in the regions with intensive plastic mulching application. Microplastic hardly affected herbicide glyphosate decay in soil but soil microbial activities which, in turn, would indirectly influence pesticide behaviour in soil ecosystem.

Using machine learning to predict soil bulk density on the basis of visual parameters : Tools for in-field and post-field evaluation
Bondi, Giulia ; Creamer, Rachel ; Ferrari, Alessio ; Fenton, Owen ; Wall, David - \ 2018
Geoderma 318 (2018). - ISSN 0016-7061 - p. 137 - 147.
Machine learning - Soil bulk density - Soil quality - Soil structure
Soil structure is a key factor that supports all soil functions. Extracting intact soil cores and horizon specific samples for determination of soil physical parameters (e.g. bulk density (Bd) or particle size distribution) is a common practice for assessing indicators of soil structure. However, these are often difficult to measure, since they require expensive and time consuming laboratory analyses. Our aim was to provide tools, through the use of machine learning techniques, to estimate the value of Bd based solely on soil visual assessment, observed by operators directly in the field. The first tool was a decision tree model, derived through a decision tree learning algorithm, which allows discrimination among three Bd ranges. The second tool was a linear equation model, derived through a linear regression algorithm, which predicts the numerical value of soil Bd. These tools were validated on a dataset of 471 soil horizons, belonging to 201 soil profile pits surveyed in Ireland. Overall, the decision tree model showed an accuracy of ~ 60%, while the linear equation model has a correlation coefficient of about 0.65 compared to the measured Bd values. For both models, the most relevant property affecting soil structural quality appears to be the humic characteristics of the soil, followed by soil porosity and pedogenic formation. The two tools are parsimonious and can be used by soil surveyors and analysts who need to have an approximate in-situ estimate of the structural quality for various soil functional applications.
Potential of conservation agriculture (CA) for climate change adaptation and food security under rainfed uplands of India : A transdisciplinary approach
Pradhan, Aliza ; Chan, Catherine ; Roul, Pravat Kumar ; Halbrendt, Jacqueline ; Sipes, Brent - \ 2018
Agricultural Systems 163 (2018). - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 27 - 35.
Analytic hierarchy process (AHP) - Conservation agriculture (CA) - Indian tribal farmers - Maize based cropping system - Rainfed agriculture - Soil quality - Transdisciplinary approach
Rainfed agro-ecosystems, the purported grey patches untouched by the Green Revolution or most technological advances, occupy a prominent position in Indian agriculture. Cropping intensities and crop yields are low and unstable in these areas due to unpredictable patterns of rainfall, a host of biotic and abiotic stresses and adherence to traditional farm practices. This precarious food security situation is especially dangerous in the central Indian tribal belt (also known as the poverty belt) which is a typical rainfed area dominated by tribal communities. More than 90% of the tribal people are totally dependent on agriculture and produce much of what they eat. Small land holdings and their low productivity, along with uncertainties in rainfall patterns, increases economic and social risks for these farmers. With degraded soils and unreliable weather patterns, return on investment is uncertain and likely to be much lower overall than under irrigated conditions with better soils. Under such conditions, one approach to achieve improved crop production is to minimize soil and other natural resource degradation by adopting a set of crop-nutrient-water-land system management practices, such as conservation agriculture (CA). To assess the effect of introduced technology under local ecological and socio-economic conditions, the study focused on two ecosystem services: a) provisional, and b) regulatory through five treatments consisting of farmers' traditional practice (FP) which was conventional tillage with broadcast of local variety maize (Zea mays L.); and four CA treatments viz., conventional tillage with sole cropped maize using line sowing of the improved maize cultivar 'Nilesh' (CT-M); conventional tillage with maize intercropped with the improved cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. cultivar 'Hariyalli Bush') (CT-M + C); reduced tillage with sole cropped maize (MT-M); and reduced tillage with maize + cowpea (MT-M + C). After harvest of maize and cowpea, mustard was planted as a post rainy season crop and all the mustard plant residues were returned to their respective plots as residue cover except FP. Under provisional ecosystem services, performance of CA on crop yield, and profitability was assessed through maize equivalent yield and partial budget analysis, respectively. Results showed that reduced tillage combined with maize-cowpea intercropping (MT-M + C) followed by mustard residue retention had higher system productivity and net benefits, an increase of 200% and 230%, respectively over FP. Under regulatory ecosystem services, the soil quality was assessed through calculation of soil quality index (SQI) which was highest under MT-M + C followed by mustard residue retention and lowest under farmers' practices. In terms of CA treatment preference, 35% of the farmers indicated a strong preference for MT-M + C compared to 14% for FP. Combined, these results clearly demonstrate the potential of CA to simultaneously increase yield, diversify crop production and improve soil quality which should support a move towards sustainable intensification of crop production to improve future household income and food security. Additionally, using a transdisciplinary approach fully engaged all stakeholders in co-designing the CA treatments appropriate for the farmers and local environmental conditions leading to significant impacts on economic livelihoods, environmental sustainability and food security.
Integrating Extensive Livestock and Soil Conservation Policies in Mediterranean Mountain Areas for Recovery of Abandoned Lands in the Central Spanish Pyrenees. A Long-Term Research Assessment
Nadal-Romero, Estela ; Lasanta, Teodoro ; Cerda Bolinches, Artemio - \ 2018
Land Degradation and Development 29 (2018)2. - ISSN 1085-3278 - p. 262 - 273.
Controlled burn - Farmland abandonment - Livestock farming - Mediterranean mountains - Pyrenees - Shrubland recovery - Soil erosion - Soil quality
Land abandonment is a global issue with important implications in Mediterranean mountain areas. Abandoned Mediterranean croplands start a process of secondary succession that is initially colonized by grasslands, shrubs and forest. In Mediterranean mountain areas, the process is very slow, so the shrubs remain for decades, preventing livestock from accessing pastureland. Therefore, farmers have to burn or clear the shrubs in order to provide pasture, a practice that has recently been encouraged by several regional governments in Spain. Data from experimental plots of the Aísa Valley Experimental Station in the Spanish Pyrenees allow to evaluate the effects of burning and clearing shrubs on physical and chemical soil properties, runoff production and soil erosion rates. The results suggested that clearing shrubs returned more positive results than burning, as it improved soil quality and slowed soil erosion while producing slightly higher runoff coefficients, which is very important in Mediterranean environments where water is a scarce resource. Clearing shrubs improves soil characteristics by increasing organic matter and CN ratio, which promote the expansion of herbaceous species with a high pastoral value. The results suggested that the policy of clearing shrubs is suitable for managing abandoned lands in Mediterranean mountain areas. Further studies at catchment scale will be needed to confirm the impact of substituting shrubs for meadows and to understand the connectivity of the flows measured from pedon and slope to the watershed scale.
Processing concepts for the use of green leaves as raw materials for the food industry
Tamayo Tenorio, A. ; Schreuders, F.K.G. ; Zisopoulos, F.K. ; Boom, R.M. ; Goot, A.J. van der - \ 2017
Journal of Cleaner Production 164 (2017). - ISSN 0959-6526 - p. 736 - 748.
Decentralised processing - Exergy - Food industry - Leaf proteins - Soil quality - Sustainability
Large-scale processing of leaves for food applications requires quick processing or stabilisation to avoid perishability, due to the high moisture content in this biomass. Leaf perishability is compounded by the seasonal availability of crops, like sugar beet plants, of which the leaves are regarded as a potential protein source. This study evaluates the resource efficiency of a hypothetical sugar beet leaf processing chain by comparing supply chain options. First, two options consider leaf processing with and without stabilising the leaves by freezing. Then, these two options are considered in a centralised and decentralised process configuration. The latter places leaf freezing and pressing at the farm and further processes occur at a central facility. Energy usage and exergy consumption were used to quantify the thermodynamic performance of the processing options. Freezing has negligible effect on the process-ability of the leaves in terms of protein content and protein yield. The overall resource efficiency of the process was dominated by the amount of leaf material effectively used, which stresses the importance of full use of all (side-)streams. This outcome also explains the limited additional energy requirements for freezing. Exergetic indicators were affected by variations on the dry matter content of the starting biomass, compared to a negligible effect of other parameters (equipment scale, efficiency or energy use). Transportation load and soil quality were also discussed for the centralised and decentralised configurations. On-farm processing of the leaves (decentralised chain) clearly reduces the transportation load due to the large difference in bulk densities of leaves (73 kg/m3) and leaf juice (1000 kg/m3). Additionally, decentralised scenarios enable direct returning of the leaf pulp to the soil and thereby improving soil quality (i.e. nutrient retention and fe rtility). Soil quality is required to fully assess the use of biomass that is currently regarded as waste, but that actually plays a role in soil fertility. Therefore, the preferred chain configuration would be a decentralised system where the leaves are directly pressed at the farm, the pulp is used to fertilise the soil, and the leaf juice is chilled transported to a centralised factory.
On the potential for terrestrial diatom communities and diatom indices to identify anthropic disturbance in soils
Antonelli, Marta ; Wetzel, Carlos E. ; Ector, Luc ; Teuling, Ryan ; Pfister, Laurent - \ 2017
Ecological Indicators 75 (2017). - ISSN 1470-160X - p. 73 - 81.
Bioindicators - Environmental control - Hydrological tracers - Luxembourg (Attert basin) - Soil diatoms - Soil quality

A large amount of studies focuses on aquatic diatoms’ ecology and their use in the assessment of water quality. Little is known about terrestrial diatoms’ ecological behaviour and sensitivity to environmental factors. We hypothesise that terrestrial diatom communities can serve as a proxy of anthropic disturbance levels in terrestrial sites. To test our hypothesis, we apply an aquatic index to soil communities that is to deliver new information on the physiographic controls on soil diatoms. Diatom and soil samples were collected in the Attert River basin in Luxembourg during three seasons, in sites characterised by different combinations of geological, soil (schist, marl and sandstone) and land use (forest, grassland and agriculture) features. We found an effect of seasonality on soil diatom communities, reflected by different species dominance and abundances in samples during the three seasons. Soil pH and land use (which translates in a different amount of total carbon and nitrogen in soil) were identified as the variables having the largest impact in structuring the communities and as among the features with the highest importance in defining the ecological status of the sites (i.e. disturbed farmlands having higher pH and lower carbon and nitrogen content). However, the lack of information about the sensitivity of some of the most abundant terrestrial species in our study area caused some discrepancies between the expected (i.e. forested areas with low anthropic disturbance) and the obtained results, with several forested sites classified as having high anthropic disturbance. These results suggest that soil communities are likely to contain information about soil ecological status and highlight the importance of a better characterisation of terrestrial diatom species for developing a quality index based on soil communities.

Ecosystem responses to land abandonment in Western Mediterranean Mountains
Romero-Díaz, Asunción ; Ruiz-Sinoga, José Damián ; Robledano-Aymerich, Francisco ; Brevik, Eric C. ; Cerda Bolinches, Artemio - \ 2017
Catena 149 (2017). - ISSN 0341-8162 - p. 824 - 835.
Erosion - Human impact - Infiltration - Mediterranean - Soil quality - Vegetative recovery

Agricultural expansion in the Mediterranean resulted in plant and soil degradation due to the intensive use, climate conditions, and rugged terrain. After abandonment, the recovery of vegetation contributed to improvement in soil quality from a hydrological, pedological and geomorphological point of view. This paper shows three examples of ecosystem evolution in abandoned fields in Valencia, Murcia and Andalucia and the application of different methodological approaches that resulted in similar findings. In Valencia, the main responses were the recovery of vegetation after land abandonment and an increase in organic matter and infiltration capacity of soils. In Murcia, with the exception of some terraced areas on marls, where erosion processes following abandonment were important, land abandonment resulted in vegetation recovery, improved soil properties, and reduced surface wash and soil losses. In Andalucia, research along climatological gradients showed the relationship between vegetation patterns and soil moisture and the control that climate exerts on hydrological and erosive behaviour. The experimental research conducted in three different regions in Western Mediterranean demonstrated that abandonment can result in recovery of the geo-ecosystem as vegetation and soil quality improvements were shown. The marls areas in Murcia were the exception with low soil quality and low vegetation cover, and as a consequence showed evidence of high erosion rates after abandonment.

Ammonia emissions from cattle slurries applied to grassland : Should application techniques be reconsidered?
Huijsmans, J.F.M. ; Schroder, Jaap ; Mosquera, J. ; Vermeulen, G.D. ; Berge, H.F.M. Ten; Neeteson, J.J. - \ 2016
Soil Use and Management 32 (2016). - ISSN 0266-0032 - p. 109 - 116.
Ammonia emission - Application techniques - Grassland - Manure - Meadow birds - Shallow injection - Slurry - Soil quality

Ammonia is easily lost after land spreading of livestock slurries. Low-emission techniques entailing injection and trailing shoes have therefore become compulsory in the Netherlands on grassland. There is an argument that the emission of ammonia after surface application is overestimated and that the emission of various other nitrogen (N) compounds, following the prescribed low-emission techniques, is underestimated. Opponents also claim that injection in particular decreases grassland yields due to its negative effect on soil quality and biodiversity. They state that a similar reduction in ammonia emissions could be realized via low-protein dairy cow diets and slurry spreading under favourable weather conditions. This study evaluates these claims and concludes that low-emission techniques reduce the loss of ammonia effectively and increase the availability of N to grassland. There are no indications that low-emission techniques per se have negative effects on soil quality, the productivity of crops and biodiversity. It has also been demonstrated that the efficacy of proposed alternatives is limited.

Fire-induced pine woodland to shrubland transitions in Southern Europe may promote shifts in soil fertility
Garcia Mayor, Angeles ; Valdecantos, A. ; Vallejo, V.R. ; Keizer, J.J. ; Bloem, J. ; Baeza, J. ; González-Pelayo, O. ; Machado, A.I. ; Ruiter, P.C. de - \ 2016
Science of the Total Environment 573 (2016). - ISSN 0048-9697 - p. 1232 - 1241.
Early warning indicators - Fire frequency - Mediterranean region - Microsite - Mineral soil - Pinus spp. woodlands - Soil quality - Sudden shift

Since the mid of the last century, fire recurrence has increased in the Iberian Peninsula and in the overall Mediterranean basin due to changes in land use and climate. The warmer and drier climate projected for this region will further increase the risk of wildfire occurrence and recurrence. Although the impact of wildfires on soil nutrient content in this region has been extensively studied, still few works have assessed this impact on the basis of fire recurrence. This study assesses the changes in soil organic C and nutrient status of mineral soils in two Southern European areas, Várzea (Northern Portugal) and Valencia (Eastern Spain), affected by different levels of fire recurrence and where short fire intervals have promoted a transition from pine woodlands to shrublands. At the short-term ( 5. years), a decline in overall soil fertility with fire recurrence was also observed, with a drop between pine woodlands (one fire) and shrublands (two and three fires), particularly in the soil microsites between shrubs. Our results suggest that the current trend of increasing fire recurrence in Southern Europe may result in losses or alterations of soil organic matter, particularly when fire promotes a transition from pine woodland to shrubland. The results also point to labile organic matter fractions in the intershrub spaces as potential early warning indicators for shifts in soil fertility in response to fire recurrence.

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