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Data proxies for assessment of urban soil suitability to support green infrastructure
Rhea, L., W. Shuster, J. Schafer, AND R. Losco. Data proxies for assessment of urban soil suitability to support green infrastructure. JOURNAL OF SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION. Soil and Water Conservation Society, 69(3):254-265, (2014).
Urban green infrastructure is being implemented in many U.S. cities. It would be beneficial to efficiently and inexpensively characterize candidate properties and those on which on which similar benefits are being realized without intervention. We hypothesize that the capability of urban properties to support green infrastructure is largely a function of the properties of their soils, and that their properties might be adequately characterized by easily and inexpensively obtained information such as site cover rather than relatively expensive soil sampling and testing. We adapted a traditional approach to soil quality characterization to determine if there were patterns in soil taxonomic, physical and chemical characteristics of vacant lots that are associated with different types of vegetated or impervious land cover. We characterized soils and measured percent vegetated, bare, or paved land cover of 62 vacant lots and city parks located in Cleveland OH (USA). These measurements were stratified by prior land use into interior and perimeter areas. Although we found that all vacant lots and park areas were vegetated to some extent, our results emphasize the potential of soils in the less-disturbed perimeter areas to support volunteer vegetation. The measurement of total carbon and infiltration rate presented unique challenges for interpretation, as compared to range or agricultural systems where these parameters are relatively more straightforward and free of artifacts. We concluded that the standardization of measurement approaches to derive a minimum soil quality dataset (MSD) is important for improving comparability of data across different soils and geographic locations, for the establishment of a provisional range of variation for urban soil quality parameters, and expand screening of existing datasets for their possible membership in an MSD. Our approach may then facilitate targeting soil functions required for sustainable vegetative cover and stormwater infiltration capacity, and in particular, for clarifying steps to repurposing vacant lots to provide these ecosystem services.
RAP SSWR 4.1
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT RESEARCH LABORATORY
SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGY DIVISION
SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENTS BRANCH