1. To present soil as a living, dynamic, vulnerable resource 2. To introduce the concept of soil quality, health and security 3. To present a basic set of indicators to monitor soil quality 4. To suggest how to choose the right indicators in relation to specific case studies in forest environment
I. Introduction Soil and its different definitions Role and position of soils in terrestrial ecosystems Ecosystem services and soil functions Concepts of chemical and biological fertility
II. Indicators of soil quality and health Review of concepts of soil quality, soil health and soil security. Rationale for the use of soil indicators and specific requisites. Physical, chemical and biological indicators. Static and dynamic descriptors. Pools and processes. Main bioindicators: definitions and functions. Soil health and resilience Soil quality indexes
III. Soil organic matter (SOM) Main features, composition, physical, chemical and biological properties. SOM as a complex indicator of soil quality. Quantity and quality of SOM Role of SOM to maintain soil fertility, to promote carbon storage and as the site of tight interactions with soil biota. Pools of ecological relevance.
IV. Soil microbial biomass Definition, composition and main characteristics Factors influencing microbial biomass development. Trophic conditions and adaptation strategies. Functions of soil microrganisms and their specific role within nutrient cycles. How to study microbial biomass. Quantitative and qualitative approaches. FE method, SIR, multi-SIR, CLPP techniques. Concepts of genetic and functional diversity. Microbial indexes: the microbial quotient, significance and measurement.
V. Mineralization processes (C & N mineralization) Significance of mineralization processes to guarantee soil fertility C mineralization. Soil respiration and its components: definition and measurement Microbial indexes: the metabolic and the mineralization quotients: significance and measurement N mineralization. Mineralization potential and in situ measurements
VI. Soil enzymes Definitions and main features. Notes on enzyme kinetics: general infos. Localization and origin of soil enzymes. Classes of soil enzymes. Functions and stability of enzymes in soil. Immobilized enzymes. Intra- and extracellular enzymes. Determination of enzyme activities by means of different methods : colorimetric and fluorimetric techniques. Specific activities. Real and potential activity.
VII. Drivers of global soils change: Natural and anthropogenic pressures (climate changes, land use changes, pollution) Threats to soil functions Soil degradation, soil loss
VIII. How to plan a monitoring activity WWWHWWW scheme. Experimental design, sampling schemes. How to choose the right indicators. New sets of indicators. Presentation of specific case studies in forest soils
Integrative seminars To be defined
Laboratory classes 1 - Determination of soil respiration 2 - Determination of acid phosphatase activity
Working group Reading and discussion of recent literature
Texts 1) Brady NC, Weil RR, 2016 The nature and properties of soils, XV Ed. (Chapt. 1, 11, 12, 20), XIV Ed.(Chapt. 2, 12, 13, 21) or XIII Ed. (Chapt. 1-11-12-20)(University Library)
2) FAO and ITPS., 2015. Status of the World’s Soil Resources (SWSR) – Main Report. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils, Rome, Italy (selected chapters)
3) NERI Technical Report No. 388, 2002 Microorganisms as indicators of soil health,
4) European Commission - DG ENV, Report 2010 Soil biodiversity: functions, threats and tools for policy makers,
5) Gardi C., Jeffrey J. , 2009 Soil biodiversity, JRC Scientific and Technical Reports