What if global warming durably modified our soil structures?

A scientific study has simulated global warming conditions over the last 28 years to analyse soil structure.

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Global warming would impact soil structures and thus their properties. This is the conclusion of a report published by researchers at Rutgers University who carried out a scientific study on soil exposed to frequent flooding over the last 28 years. Worrying news for farmers – and the landscaping sector!

A soil sample studied since 1991

To show the collateral damage of global warming on soil structures, the researchers used a plot in Kansas, in the middle of the United States prairies, for their experiments. Since 1991 an irrigation system has simulated an increase of 35% in water to create global warming conditions characterized by more abundant rainfall.

Impacts on soil structures…

The results of this increase are as expected. The study reveals structural modifications to pores in the ground (usually measuring 1 to 1000μm in diameter) caused by blockages from increasingly bulky roots. A reduction of 21 to 33% of the absorption capacity of the soil was observed. Another impact of global warming is that it also changes the soil retraction/expansion cycle, amplifying soil compression.

This modifies the synergy between two principles very familiar to landscaping companies – the development of root systems and the soil retraction/expansion cycle.

Check out phytotechnologies to improve soil properties!

… imply impacts on landscaping companies

Although agriculture is the first industry affected by soil structure modifications, all ground-working activities are likely to be impacted, including the landscaping sector. As soils find it more difficult to absorb rainfall effectively, the sector can expect an increase in the presence of parasites and mushrooms due to stagnant water. Water runoffs could damage plants and water tables would not fill correctly any more, reinforcing water stress. Last but not least, the irrigation systems currently in use will need to be redesigned, reinforcing the need for setting up sustainable water management programs.

This soil structure study highlights new impacts of global warming – and obliges landscaping companies to change the way they work. However, the sector can still act to minimize the climate change to come – through green urbanism, for example!

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Since its launch in 2009, Paysalia has been organized in co-production with UNEP which supports landscape contractors on a daily basis through its 13 regional unions. UNEP defends for the interests of businesses in the landscape and garden sector, develops social standards for the profession, and leads the creation of professional guidelines for the industry.