Research group Soil Degradation and Soil Conservation

Welcome to the website of the research group Soil Degradation and Soil Conservation. This research group is one of the five research groups of the Department of Soil Management of Ghent University.

Our research group focuses on the various aspects of soil degradation, soil erosion and land evaluation. Our mission is to contribute, via research and education, to a sustainable and rational use of natural and human resources, whereby the focus is especially on soil and the various ecosystem services (biomass production, air and water regulation, nutrient cycling, …) it provides.

The multiple functions of soils and the growing civil attention for environmental quality emphasize the need for decision support systems that envisage the sensitivity to soil degradation and climate change, and optimized soil management that maximizes the returns and services and minimizes the pressure on the environment. In addition, identifying static and dynamic soil quality indicators, characterizing base lines and determining threshold values are indispensable to monitor the soil quality and to develop soil protection measures.

Key interests of our research group include the mapping of potential and actual risk areas for soil degradation in various land use types, studying and quantifying the environmental causes of soil degradation through modeling as well as laboratory and field experiments and evaluating various soil protection strategies. These aspects can be integrated in new land evaluation technics, impact assessments of land use dynamics on soil functions, crop growth and food security.

Research theme 'Natural Capital'

Our research group is member of the research platform 'Natural Capital' of the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering at Ghent University, Belgium.

International Centre for Eremology (ICE)

The International Centre for Eremology (ICE), led by Em. Prof. Dr. Ir. Gabriëls, promotes and coordinates research on soil degradation and desertification in the (semi) arid regions. Since 2008, the centre acts as UNESCO chair on Eremology.

Major research topics and interests

  • Development of thematical maps for soil degradation assessments
  • Fundamental research on and quantifying of environmental causes of soil degradation
  • Delineating areas of risk for land degradation, taking into account climate variability and climate change
  • Ecosystem services and multifunctional land use
  • Scientifically sound decision support systems for sustainable planning and management of land (use)
  • Design and evaluation of recovery strategies for degraded agro-ecosystems
  • Design and evaluation of soil conditioners and soil protection measures making use of local materials
  • Evaluation of diagnostic soil parameters (used in soil erosion modeling) in time (during rain events, before/after erosion impact) and their influence on soil loss
  • Multi-tracer methods to determine soil redistribution in function of soil conservation, sustainable production and environmental protection
  • Wind erosion and emission of coarse dust
  • Physical quality of subsoil of grass and artificial turf courts

More information?

Ann Verdoodt