Ecosystems Science Soils

SUN Lab scientists suggested how to improve the condition of the soils of the Zaryadye Park

Scientists from the Smart Urban Nature Research Center and the Soil and Ecological Laboratory of the RUDN Agrarian and Technological Institute conducted a comprehensive soil and ecological survey and took more than 80 soil samples in Zaryadye Park. An assessment of the physicochemical, microbiological, and ecotoxicological properties of soils made it possible to develop recommendations and a plan for the care of soils in analogous landscapes in the park. The surveys were carried out within the framework of the research work on the topic: “Conducting studies of soil substrates in the territory of the Zaryadye Park” (No. 202200-3-000).

It is wellknown, that the concept of the Zaryadye park is based on the reproduction of the diversity of the flora of the main climatic landscape zones of Russia. Here, the northern landscape is replaced by a mixed forest, and a coniferous forest is adjacent to the steppe. In addition to thematic zones, here you can admire classic urban landscaping, as well as modern landscape design technologies. And all this in a relatively small area of ​​13 hectares.

To maintain such diversity, it is necessary to provide for many specific factors: the creation of a special microclimate for each zone, measures to care for vegetation and, of course, maintaining the condition and functionality of soils.

Another feature of the park can be called the fact that trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants grow in it on bulk soil, at the base of which lies the foundation. In fact, Zaryadye Park is a huge exploited roof. Therefore, the properties and ecological functions of soils are one of the main factors determining the stability of plant communities.

In addition, the park is located in the center of Moscow, where heavy traffic causes soil pollution, and a large number of park visitors creates a high recreational load, leading to trampling and overconsolidation. The influence of the urban heat island is also significant, which leads to the gradual degradation of soils.

That is why the soils of Zaryadye need a kind of medical examination – soil monitoring and environmental assessment. RUDN scientists helped the park with this. They conducted soil substrate studies for all 11 landscape zones. The study included the selection of more than 80 soil samples, analysis of the agrochemical and agrophysical properties of soils, their microbiological activity and greenhouse gas emissions.

The conducted studies have shown that the main reason complicating the development of plants in the park is not soil pollution, but the deterioration of their physical and chemical properties, namely, moisture deficiency, overcompaction, increased phosphorus content against the background of a decrease in organic matter content.

For almost all landscape zones, the agrochemical properties of the soil change from initial values ​​close to zonal soils to values ​​typical of the city. As a result, the soils “homogenize” – they become similar to each other and noticeably differ from the zonal ones – characteristic of different climatic zones – which fundamentally changes the living conditions of zonal vegetation. As a result, the areas of northern landscapes suffer the most, for which deviations from the usual acidity and moisture conditions of soils become critical – Maria Korneikova, Ph.D., project manager.

Most of the landscapes also suffer from increased recreational pressure, that is, soils in disturbed areas are trampled by visitors. Unfortunately, this problem cannot be solved by replacing the soil, it requires both agrotechnical measures and regular maintenance, specialized for each of the landscape zones, as well as reducing human impact.

This diversified approach of researchers has made it possible to formulate recommendations and measures that will improve the condition of soils. These recommendations were drawn up in the form of a plan and included measures for soil moisture, mulching using an acidic organic substrate, the use of organic fertilizers (composts) and their proper application. The need for soil-ecological monitoring was also noted: monitoring changes in agrochemical, physical and microbiological properties, water-temperature conditions and greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to caring for plants and soil, it is important to redirect visitors from damaged areas, giving plants in these areas a little rest and making additional plantings. An effective measure can be the placement of transparent protective screens or information signs, which, without reducing the aesthetic value of the park areas, will contribute to the restoration of plants and soils.

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