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Pedometric valuation of the soil resource

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posted on 2023-05-03, 14:27 authored by David Rossiter, Allan Hewitt, Estelle DominatiEstelle Dominati
Soil forms the thin skin of the Earth, and is the site of many ecological process-es, transformations and fluxes. It forms the substrate for most of the activities that take place at the Earth’s surface, including almost all food production and human occupation, and underpins both natural and managed ecosystems. Soils differ in their structure, composition and ability to function under a use. Soil is a multifunctional resource that affects human well-being both directly (e.g., food provision) and indirectly (e.g., surface and ground water supplies), and that affects all near-land surface ecological processes. Clearly, soil is “valuable” as that term is understood in common language. The pedometric program as out-lined in this book, i.e., the development of “quantitative methods for the study of soil distribution … as a sustainable resource” should therefore include an at-tempt to quantify this value. Chapter 1 of the present book lists as the third of four items on the pedometrics agenda “evaluating the utility and quality of soil”, and it is in this sense that we attempt in this chapter to define and quantify the value of the soil resource. This process is referred to as “valuation”. As the review of Robinson et al. (2014) on the value of the soil resource states, “Common to all valuation is the initial and fundamental question, what is the valuation for? There must be a clearly defined policy objective or man-agement purpose for valuation.” In this chapter we consider that the fundamen-tal reason to value the soil resource is to include a fair representation of the multi-functionality of the soil resource in any discussion about the use of natural resources and value-driven tradeoffs in resource management discussions. Ex-amples of synchronic and short-term resource management issues are taxation of agricultural lands and fair value in land swaps, e.g., in land consolidation pro-grams. A diachronic longer-term example is the capability of soils to perform under different land uses and different management intensities, compared to one-off uses such as foundation for construction (urbanization) or as a mineable resource. We proceed as follows. First, we define the concept of value and in what terms it can be measured. Second, we describe pedometric approaches to inter-nal valuation, i.e., comparing soils to each other, such as land indices. Third, we link the concept of external value, i.e., comparing the value of the soil re-source to other goods in monetary terms, to FAO-style land evaluation. We then expand the discussion of value by describing the multiple contributions of the soil resource to human well being via the concepts of natural capital and ecosys-tem services. Finally, we propose an approach to measuring the value of the soil using these concepts.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018


  • English

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Springer Berlin Heidelberg

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Rossiter, D., Hewitt, A., & Dominati, E. (2018). Pedometric valuation of the soil resource. In A. B. McBratney, B. Minasny, & U. Stockmann (Eds.), Pedometrics (pp. 521–546). Springer Berlin Heidelberg. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-63439-5_17

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