Tutorial:Anthrosols and Plaggen

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[edit] Anthrosols

Plaggen soil from Nairn, Scotland
Plaggen soil from Nairn, Scotland

Anthrosols are soils, which are a result of past land management practices, such as the addition of plaggen from heath land or meadow land, or the fertilisation by the use of, for instance, seaweed.

[edit] Plaggen Soils

Past farming practices can be recognized in the soil profile. In northwest Europe, a special man-made soil type, known as a plaggen soil, has developed as a result of a special agricultural system. On the strongly leached, acid sandy outwash plains and moraines, podzols have developed underneath a vegetation cover of heather. The farmers used the heather and the uppermost centimetre of the soil as bedding in the stables. The dropping from the animals, mixed with the bedding, was later used as manure on the nearby fields, slowly building up a thick humus soil layer rich in nutrients and soil water. These fields provide a relatively high stable crop production compared to the surrounding land.

Careful study of the soil at the border between the uppermost humus coloured soil horizon and the yellowish-brown subsoil below can provide important information on previous human activities. In plaggen soil, spade marks are a distinct feature while in other areas orthogonal marks from ploughing with ards (oxen pulled troughs) are common. In some regions, humus coloured marks can be found indicating the postions of postholes for wooden houses thus telling us about the location of former settlements.

[edit] References

  • European Commision (2005) Soil Atlas of Europe European Soil Bureau Network, Luxembourg


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