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Gewählte Doctoral Thesis:

Jasmin Schiefer (2018): The natural potential and limitations of soils for food security and climate change mitigation.
Doctoral Thesis - Institut für Bodenforschung (IBF), BOKU-Universität für Bodenkultur, pp 99. UB BOKU obvsg

Data Source: ZID Abstracts
The increasing demand for food and fibre as well as climate change are the two main challenges in the next decades. The concept of “sustainable intensification” (SI) recognizes the need to increase agricultural productivity while simultaneously reducing negative environmental impacts from agriculture. The “4/1,000” initiative for food security and climate change aims to increase world's soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks by 4‰ annually. For these two concepts the importance of intrinsic soil properties and the soil development status was not thoroughly investigated. The first part of this thesis identifies indicators for arable soils causing high natural resilience and performance and elaborates an arable land classification scheme. The scheme is compared to the Muencheberger Soil Quality Rating in Germany to test its applicability. In a second step, this elaborated arable land classification scheme is applied in Europe. The results show that from a soil perspective, almost half (44%) of the investigated arable land in EU-25 has such low soil resilience and performance that it cannot be recommended for SI. About 40% of the analysed soil has a high resilience and performance. For the third part, a case study in the alluvial floodplain of the Danube River in the Marchfeld (Eastern Austria) was chosen to analyse the potential of soils for the “4/1,000” initiative. In this area, a chronosequence revealed a fast build-up of OC stocks in young soils. After 100 to 350 years of soil development the OC accumulation levels off. Radiocarbon dating in the topsoil indicates fast carbon cycling. In view of the “4/1,000” initiative, soils under forest & grassland fulfil the intended 4‰ growth rate of SOC stocks only in the first 60 years of soil development. The thesis shows that soil intrinsic properties and the soil development status limit the potential for sustainable intensification for food security and the expectation that soils can mitigate climate change to a large extent.

Betreuer: Blum Winfried E.H.
1. Berater: Lair Georg

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