Soil property variability in a humid natural Mediterranean environment: La Rioja, Spain .

Raimundo Jiménez-Ballesta, Marisol S. Andrades, Álvaro Marín, Victoria Íñigo, Juan I. Alonso-Martirena


Estimating the spatial variability of soil properties is significant for evaluating environmental impacts. For example, many soil properties are directly used in the modelling of environmental processes such as global climate change. These aspects have not previously been studied at this level in La Rioja (a region of Spain with a humid Mediterranean environment). The intention of this study was to provide quantitative information on soil assessment and mapping methods for natural soils in a humid Mediterranean environment. The properties considered included: pH and organic matter, calcium carbonate and clay contents. For testing, samples were selected from several different soil types which, in theory, were only affected by pedogenetic processes and had developed on different parent materials. More than half of the samples did not contain any CaCO3, while the rest of the samples presented a variety of CaCO3, forms, with high percentages being present in certain cases (up to 65% on the surface). It was possible to establish two different areas: one predominantly acidic and the other principally basic. The predominately basic samples were due to the high percentage of carbonate in the parent materials. The clay content on the surface was similar to that in the subsurface layers. Finally, the organic matter contents in the uppermost layers presented average values of 3.9%,with a range of from 0.3 to 17.5%. The major variations in soils were determined by soil type (therefore by soil forming processes), parent material composition, and vegetation type. This study reveals that these methods are useful to determine the spatial distribution of some soil properties in undisturbed soils. The contour maps of soil property variability could be used to improve future sampling designs and management decisions.
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