Don't Overlook Urban Soil

Don't Overlook Urban Soil

Just as urban communities feature a mosaic of cultures, an analysis of Baltimore soil revealed a mosaic of soil conditions. Urban soil has been presumed to be highly disturbed, but this study showed that typical urban soil isn't so typical -- and isn't so disturbed -- after all.

If you were looking for fertile soil, it's doubtful you'd begin your search in most U.S. cities. After all, urban soils are often viewed as drastically disturbed soils with low fertility. However, new research by a team of scientists working in Baltimore discovered that surface soil characteristics were not necessarily infertile and varied widely, making it difficult to define or describe a "typical urban soil."

Although the more conspicuous effects of urban disturbances on soil have been considered by researchers, other factors associated with urban land transformations have received limited attention. These various effects create a "mosaic" of soil conditions, ranging from natural to highly disturbed soil profiles.

To examine the effects of land use and cover on soils, researchers from USDA Forest Service and the University of Maryland Baltimore County sampled and measured the physical and chemical properties of surface soils from 122 Baltimore plots.

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