Wetland soils under rice management and seawater intrusion: Characterization and classification
Wetlands started to gain attention when the scientific community began investigating these resources in the eighties. Water, wildlife, and vegetation attracted most of the interest and funding, whereas soils were relegated from research efforts. Despite this situation, US researchers started developing a specific terminology and methodologies for hydric soils in order to unveil a new soil class that could offer great agricultural and environmental opportunities. In Spain, similar studies are practically nonexistent, and so we carried out a study of wetland soils examining 19 profiles and 133 pits in the Albufera of Valencia, a marsh area cultivated with rice. The aim of this paper was to define the morphology and physico-chemical properties of these hydric soils in order to classify them and to correlate those properties with three topographic variables: distance to the sea, distance to the lagoon and height above the sea level. The soils showed an alluvial character with moderate carbonate content and a high variation in organic matter content due to the management of paddy fields. The proximity to the sea and the different intrusion processes revealed salinity as the most important factor in these soils, which were classified as Entisols and Aridisols.