Geographers have revealed links between unsustainable farming and soil erosion.
Geographers at the University of Plymouth have developed environmental forensic techniques that reveal linkages between unsustainable farming and forestry practices, and soil erosion and downstream sedimentation.
Soil is a fundamental resource that is being lost from cropland as a consequence of unsustainable agricultural and forestry practices. Erosion and downstream sedimentation have a major impact on food, water and energy security, yet the linkages between these are poorly understood, and often not clearly defined or recognised in land management strategies.
Environmental forensic tools using isotopic soil and sediment tracers can be used to identify soil erosion hotspots. Cultivation and other land management practices alter isotopic properties of topsoil and such differences can be used as ‘fingerprints’ to track and trace soil movement through land-water systems.
The research team has led innovative work around the short-lived fallout radionuclide, beryllium-7 (Be-7), derived from rainfall, which can be used to detect soil movement, export or loss.
Training programmes led by the team have changed soil management policy and practice at the government level in Vietnam, Malaysia and Morocco. In Vietnam, for example, the tools were used to implement conservation strategies that reduced soil erosion in uplands by 90% and retained sufficient runoff for lowland rice production.
In remote Maasai communities in degraded pastoral land in northern Tanzania, the team applied their interdisciplinary and participatory methodology to enable a ‘bottom-up’ approach to changing land management practices to support soil conservation.
Read the full impact case study in the REF 21 database
Interdisciplinary approach to address effects of soil erosion - University of Plymouth
Institution: University of Plymouth
Researchers: Professor William Blake, Dr Claire Kelly, Dr Alex Taylor
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY NC 4.0), which permits use, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, provided the original work is cited and it is for non-commercial purposes. Please contact us for other uses.
Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Turning environmental forensic evidence into effective soil conservation policy. Available at www.rgs.org/impact/Environmental-forensic-evidence Last accessed on: <date>
Featured image: Press office, University of Plymouth
Research has changed policy and practice for flood and erosion risk management.
Research has directly challenged the assumption in Scotland that racism and Islamophobia are only of concern in England.
Research has shown how tree cover can reduce water temperature extremes.
The Flood Hazard Research Centre has pioneered research on flood loss assessment methodologies for over 30 years.
By placing a booking, you are permitting us to store and use your (and any other attendees) details in order to fulfil the booking.
We will not use your details for marketing purposes without your explicit consent.
You must be a member holding a valid Society membership to view the content you are trying to access. Please login to continue.
Join us today, Society membership is open to anyone with a passion for geography
Cookies on the RGS website