The investigation of the chemical and physical properties of soils is an essential prerequisite for the planning and implementation of soil protection measures. At present, however, there is no uniformly implemented or legally anchored soil monitoring program for Austria. At the European level, regular recurring topsoil surveys take place within the framework of the Land Use and Coverage Area frame Survey (LUCAS). In the course of the projects, a national validation of the LUCAS dataset was carried out, since the representativeness and use for modeling are repeatedly criticized. In addition, a proposal for an Austria-wide monitoring network is being developed.
During the 2018 LUCAS sampling campaign, double sampling was performed: one sample was analyzed by a laboratory on behalf of the European Commission, while the second half was analyzed as a parallel sample at AGES.
In addition, LUCAS-analog sampling of soil material was performed at 79 selected LUCAS sites. In contrast to LUCAS, where a composite sample is prepared from the five individual samples per site, these were analyzed separately collected at LUCASSA. In addition, soil shape-related sampling was performed in a circular area around the LUCAS point. Additional soil samples were obtained at eight LUCAS sites to investigate area representativeness. All analytical results were analyzed descriptively-statistically.
Benefit of the project
The evaluation of the scatter of results within a LUCAS site showed that attention should be paid to precise sampling and that the suitability of a point for monitoring should be clarified in detail in advance. While a sample may be representative of a site, significant deviations may occur. The ranges and deviations of the mean values of the test results make it clear that the LUCAS sampling grid used is not sufficient to represent the Austrian soils. In some areas the range of chemical soil parameters within an area of 4 km² is so large that it can only be inadequately described by a single point. Therefore, an extrapolation of the LUCAS results into the area does not seem permissible.
The comparison of the analytical results of two different soil testing laboratories ("LUCAS-Laboratory" and AGES-Laboratory) shows a good agreement of the parameters pH-value, TOC (total organic carbon) and N (nitrogen), whereas for the last two the correlations become lower in the range of higher measured values. Due to different methods, the plant-available P (phosphorus) and K (potassium) contents show low correlations, although for the potassium on soils with low contents a comparability is certainly given with reservations.
The project has shown that a soil monitoring system is an essential prerequisite for the planning and implementation of soil protection measures. However, such a monitoring system can only be a compromise between informative value and financial feasibility, especially if it covers a highly heterogeneous area. LUCAS soil monitoring is therefore an important and informative system for recording essential soil properties. In addition, it offers the advantage of an already relatively long time series and is expected to continue in the coming years.
The informative value of the LUCAS data is limited, as they are only valid for the immediate site and only if an influence by adjacent uses can be excluded. LUCAS values are not representative for larger territorial units.
The LUCASSA II project addresses the weaknesses uncovered, such as the lack of representativeness of some LUCAS points for surrounding soils. Sampling profile points that are representative of previously designated areas is therefore particularly important. Supplementing the LUCAS data with national analyses of regularly evaluated sites that are representative of specific regions can greatly improve the database for national monitoring. Such sites are the so-called sample plots of the financial soil estimation as well as the profiles of the agricultural soil mapping. In addition to a parallel analysis of samples from the upcoming next LUCAS sampling, the federal sample pieces of the financial soil estimate as well as 70 selected sites (groundwater-affected soils) of the soil mapping will now be investigated.
Project acronym: LUCASSA & LUCASSA II
Project Management: AGES, Dr. Andreas Baumgarten, Institute for Sustainable Plant Production
Project partners: Federal Forest Research Center, Federal Agency for Water Management, Federal Environmental Agency, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences
Funding: funding program BMLRT (BMNT, BMLFUW) - DAFNE.
Project duration: 10/2018-04/2021 and 06/2022-05/2025
Last updated: 25.04.2023