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RP2E INRA Université de Lorraine

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Humusica: Soil biodiversity and global change

Bulletin of geography: Physical Geography Series, 14 (1), pp. 15-36.

Zanella, A., Ascher-Jenull, J., Ponge, J.F., Bolzonella, C., Banas, D., De Nobili, M., Fusaro, S., Sella, L., Giannini, R.

2018

Born in Trento (Italy, 2003) for the purpose of standardising vocabulary and units of humus form classification, after publishing a first synthetic classification e-book (Zanella et al. 2011) they do not cover all site conditions in the European area. Although having basic concepts and general lines, the European (and North American, Canadian, the Humus group decided to use its classification for handling global change (Zanella and Ascher-Jenull 2018). The process is detailed in many scientific articles published in three Special Issues (Humusica 1, 2 and 3) of the journal Applied Soil Ecology. Conceptually, the whole of Humusica answers three crucial questions: A) What is soil? Soil is a biological ecosystem. It recycles dead structures and implements mineral material, furnishing more or less re-elaborated organic, mineral and organic-mineral elements to support living organisms. Article chapters: 1. Essential vocabulary; 2. Soil covers all the Earth’s surfaces (soil as the seat of processes of organic matter storage and recycling); 3. Soil may be involved in the process of natural evolution (through organisms’ process of recycling biomass after death). B) If soil has a biogenic essence, how should it be classified to serve such managerial purposes as landscape exploitation or protection? A useful classification of soil should consider and propose useful references to biologically discriminate soil features. Article chapters: 4. Soil corresponds to a biogenic structure; 5. TerrHum, an App for classifying forest humipedons worldwide (a first attempt to use a smartphone as a field manual for humus form classification). C) How can this soil classification be used for handling the current global change? Using the collected knowledge about the biodiversity and functioning of natural (or semi-natural) soil for reconstructing the lost biodiversity/functioning of heavily exploited or degraded soils. Article chapters: 6. Agricultural soils correspond to simplified natural soils (comparison between natural and agricultural soils); 7. Organic waste and agricultural soils; 8. Is traditional agriculture economically sustainable? Comparing past traditional farm practices (in 1947) and contemporary intensive farm practices in the Venice province of Italy

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