Cluster Soil

The picture shows two men's hands holding fine-grained soil.Click to enlarge
Soil
Source: Photograph: © mintra / stock.adobe.com

2019 Monitoring Report on the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change

Table of Contents

 

Soil

Soils fulfil a great variety of tasks in nature which benefit humans either directly or indirectly. Soil properties such as humus content and soil structure are, next to climate, crucial for the fertility of soils. Fertile soils are essential for successful production in agriculture. Likewise, they are a basic requirement for producing victuals. In contrast, ‘poor soils’ often serve as havens or special habitats for rare plants and animals. Soils also play an important role in a landscape’s water regime. They store and filter an astonishing amount of water. This makes them natural buffers warding off floodwater risks while providing us with clean groundwater. In Germany, the soil’s functions have been protected since 1999 when the Federal Soil Protection Act (BbodSchG) was passed.

The climate influences numerous soil processes including a soil’s formation, its properties and its functions. Soil processes such as weathering, formation of minerals, decomposition, development of humus and structure, take place over vast timescales and are strongly dependent on temperatures and availability of water.

The diversity of soils is great, and just as diverse are the impacts of climate change. In terms of surface area, agricultural use constitutes the most widespread intervention in natural soil structures, because more than half of Germany’s surface area is used agriculturally. It is therefore important to make agricultural activities as sustainable as possible, using the soil’s resources sparingly, in order to maintain and where possible enhance the natural resilience of soils in the face of adverse impacts from climate change such as summer droughts, waterlogging in winter and soil loss caused by water and wind.

For soils to fulfil their important functions in natural systems, they have to be protected from overbuilding and soil sealing.

 

Effects of climate change

Soil water supply - potential shortages (BO-I-1)

Loss of soil caused by water and wind impacts - painfull losses (BO-I-2)

 

Adaptations

Humus strengthens soil resilience (BO-R-1)

Grassland conservation - important for soil protection (BO-R-2)