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Sampling strategy for ECN soil protocols - CC0405

The Environmental Change Network (ECN) is a NERC-managed programme which involves the monitoring of a network of lowland agricultural sites throughout the UK to analyse and predict long-term environmental change. Soil sampling protocols for ECN sites specify that all designated soil parameters should be analysed at 20 year intervals, while selected parameters should be analysed every 5 years; however, these protocols were established with very limited information available on long-term changes in soil properties. This study will evaluate the most appropriate time intervals for analysis of different soil properties, in order to develop a sound, science-based protocol for soil sampling within the ECN. The study will be composed of 6 objectives outlined as follows, together with ways in which they might be achieved: 1. Gathering of relevant data sets. Appropriate data sets will be collected and assessed for quality; 2. Determination of parameter variation with space (including depth) and time. The 3-dimensional variation of data in space will be determined and simple coefficients of variation will be obtained for all available soil physicochemical and biological properties; 3. Conduct a simple statistical evaluation of the required sampling intensity that will enable detection of significant changes. The time over which statistically significant changes in each property are likely to be observed within the existing ECN sampling strategy will be evaluated; 4. Examine the possible use of time series statistics and model predictions to better assess significant rates of change and sampling strategies. Use of these techniques to determine real trends in soil parameters, and thus the required sampling frequency to measure such trends, will be discussed with statisticians; 5. Examine the possible use of model predictions of the rates of change of certain parameters (pH and soil C content) under a range of climate change and other scenarios. Ability of existing models for some soil properties to predict how quickly properties might change under a range of climate change and other scenarios will be evaluated; and 6. Produce a report and recommendations. The authors of this study will collaborate with the Macauley Land Use Research Institute (which is conducting a similar study on Scottish soils) and the ECN coordination group to produce agreed sampling protocols and produce a final report to MAFF.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1997

To: 1998

Cost: £10,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Rothamsted Research (BBSRC)
Fields of Study
Environmental Stewardship
Agriculture and Climate Change