Skip to main content

PDF


Title: MASQ: Monitoring and Assessing Soil Quality in Great Britain. Countryside Survey Module 6: Soils and Pollution
Author: H I J Black
Author: J S Garnett
Author: G Ainsworth
Author: P A Coward
Author: R Creamer
Author: S Ellwood
Author: J Horne
Author: M Hornung
Author: V H Kennedy
Author: F Monson
Author: L Raine
Author: D Osborn
Author: N R Parekh
Author: et. al content
Author: organic pollutants
Author: microbial diversity
Author: invertebrate diversity.
Author: Environment Agency
Document Type: Monograph
Annotation: Environment Agency Project ID:EAPRJOUT_1419, Representation ID: 477, Object ID: 2574
Abstract:
The MASQ (Monitoring and Assessing Soil Quality) project was carried out by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and funded jointly by The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), The Environment Agency (EA), Scotland and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research (SNIFFER) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The project was started in 1998 and completed in 2001. The MASQ project undertook a nationwide survey of soil biological and chemical properties as part of The Countryside Survey 2000 (CS2000). The overall objective was to provide good quality datasets for soil invertebrate and microbial communities, soil pH and organic matter, as influences on soil biology and characteristic properties of British soils, and two groups of potentially widespread chemical pollutants (heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants). CS2000 was a cost-effective framework for integrating an assessment of soil properties with detailed landscape, land-use, soils and vegetation data since all data were obtained from the same plots. This report provides summary information on methods and descriptions of individual datasets. Results from analyses by national scale stratifications used within CS2000 illustrate the range in values and variability within the British countryside for each soil property and highlight the potential for future exploration of the datasets. 1071 soil samples were analysed for pH in water with 769 from the same location as the Ecological Survey of 1978. Soil pH from both surveys corresponded with expected patterns. Soil pH ranged from 3.2 to 8.71 with acidic soils predominating. Upland soils were most acidic while arable/horticultural areas, mainly in the lowlands of England and Wales, were the most alkaline. Preliminary results suggest an overall increase in soil pH since 1978. Variation in pH across the British countryside can be used to explore the influence of site factors (soil type, land use, management, geology etc). 1067 soil samples were analysed for loss-on-ignition (LOI) as a measure of soil organic matter content (SOM); 744 from the same location as the 1978 Survey. In both surveys, SOM showed a bi-modal distribution. The highest SOM values were recorded from wetland habitats and upland, more acidic soils and the lowest in lowland agricultural habitats. Preliminary results suggest an increase, or at least no change, in SOM over the last twenty years. Further analyses are required to determine whether these results are consistent with in-situ accumulation, method differences and/or small-scale heterogeneity. The conversion of SOM to soil organic carbon contents (SOC) was not reliable using available equations. Reliable estimates could be obtained by analysing total carbon in a sub-set of CS2000 soil samples across the range of SOM values. 1080 soil samples were analysed for the total concentrations of seven heavy metals by ICP-OES; Cadmium (Cd), Copper (Cu), Lead, (Pb), Nickel (Ni), Vanadium (V) and Zinc (Zn). Non-normal distributions of concentrations were observed for all metals. Similar distribution patterns were obtained for associated metals (Cd/Pb, V/Cr/Ni and Cu/Zn). Mean metal concentrations were significantly higher in England and Wales than in Scotland while median concentrations were lowest in podzols and peat soils and heath and bog sites and highest in lowland agricultural areas. R and D TECHNICAL REPORT E1-063/TR i A novel analytical method was developed using GC-MS for the analysis of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) in soils. Over 120 samples have been analysed, to date. 35 PCB congeners and 14 PAHs have been quantified, along with 7 OCP pesticides or their persistent metabolite, and include at least one pesticide in current use. Preliminary results revealed that the distribution of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) was not homogenous in British soils. A study of within field heterogeneity showed that PCB 180 concentrations could differ by more than an order of magnitude over 10 m while PAH benzo[a]pyrene concentrations were less variable. Soil invertebrates were extracted and identified from 1052 soil samples. 25 major taxonomic Orders were recorded and species identified for Coleoptera, Diplopoda, Isopoda, Chilopoda, Pseudoscorpions and Oribatid mites. Collembola species identification has been initiated. The Oribatid mite identification has produced several new records for Britain, with potential new species and a new genus to science. Two groups of soil invertebrates, Collembola and Acari, were recorded in sufficient numbers to further examine distribution patterns and relationships with other soil properties and the wider environment and investigate whether variation corresponds to site-specific environmental factors or higher-level spatial and/or temporal factors. 940 soil samples were analysed for numbers and functional diversity of heterotrophic bacteria. The mean number of viable cells was 2.51 x 107 colony forming units (cfu) g-1 dry weight of soil while the average global activities ranged from 17.1 to 302.9 OD590 (Optical Density). The data were skewed towards those with low numbers or activities. The next stage will be to compare how published data fit into these distribution patterns. The responses to the 95 BIOLOG GN substrates were analysed as a whole for the purpose of this report. Responses for each set of carbon sources should be analysed separately so that the discriminating power of different substrate groups can be evaluated. Further analyses of the BIOLOG data will also have to account for the correlation between global activities at low inoculum densities. All MASQ data and metadata have been fully integrated into The Countryside Survey 2000 Integrated Data System (CIDS), an ORACLE based data management system that ensures safe storage, access to data for future analyses and links among data from CS2000 and earlier surveys. CIDS is maintained by CEH Computer support Staff via CS2000 Module 13. The data and summary statistics presented for the individual soil properties, demonstrate that the MASQ project has produced good quality national datasets that can be used to investigate the distribution patterns of, and relationships between, soil biological and chemical properties and their environment. The project also established that soil biological properties could be assessed, alongside other soil properties, within national scale soil monitoring programmes. Future research priorities are presented in the over-view. These are not a comprehensive list but a starting point from which research priorities, that address research and policy requirements, can be explored, identified and undertaken. A priority for the next stage of data analyses must be the investigation of relationships between the invertebrate and microbial properties of soils and their environment e.g. other soil properties, soil type, habitat, land use and geographical location. R and D TECHNICAL REPORT E1-063/TR ii Executive Summary i Page CONTENTS 1.
Publisher: Environment Agency
Subject Keywords: Monitoring; Countryside survey 2000; Soil quality; Heavy metals; Soil ph; Organic matter content; Organic pollutants; Microbial diversity; Invertebrate diversity
Extent: 207
Permalink: http://www.environmentdata.org/archive/ealit:4679
Total file downloads: 4

Download PDF    Display PDF in separate tab