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Flooding

Flooding

In 2014 there was serious flooding of the Somerset plains for weeks on end. THe simple question was - does this affect soil life?

The aim here is to work out how life in the soil is going to recover from the flooding that affected large parts of Southern England early 2014. 
How is the soil going to recover after weeks of floodwater? 
With a lot of of the air out of the soil and compaction how will life recover? And what state will it be in in the first few months? Will the worms survive? Some of the deeper burrowing ones will bo KK, but hard to see those like Brandling worms (those we have in our wormeries) doing very well. Similarly can't see the springtails (collembola) surviving very well, but the mites (oribatids) have survived 400 million years (quick guide to soil animals by food level)
Check out what Dr Kevin Butt had to say on Farming Today in the file at the bottom of the page.
April "We need millions of worms" Stuart Fripp, an agronomist advising farmers in the flood-damaged South-West, says in many areas earthworms are non-existent. The sheer weight of many feet of water forced out the air from acres of farmland across the Levels and has killed off much of the worm population. 
One of the country’s leading worm suppliers, Nigel Baker, claims farmers would need 24,000 worms to restore an acre of farmland, costing £2,000.An absence of the invertebrates now poses a threat to the health ofthe soil and threatens the entire eco-system by depriving foraging animals of a key source of food.
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Here is what Sense about Science have to say (Robin Sen MMU) answering this question
Dr Robin Sen, Reader at Manchester Metropolitan University: “Soil organisms together with plant communities in floodplain areas are generally well adapted to regular flooding, particularly where there has been limited or no management. However, current flooding is mainly concentrated in floodplains where the soils have been significantly altered due to urbanisation or long-term agriculture. As a result, these soils can lack the resilience to withstand prolonged flooding events following historical changes to physical, chemical and microbiological properties, along with typically reduced non-flood adapted plant diversity, particularly with regard to agricultural land.

The rapid loss of soil aeration following waterlogging drives further changes in soil properties that can trigger release of essential plant nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen causing a major loss of soil fertility.

Another major risk to soil life and productivity comes from the input of pollutants such as toxic heavy metals and hydrocarbons from nearby flooded urban brownfield sites and roads. Post-flooding recovery of soils is greatly dependent on a range of factors such as soil organic matter content and subsequent land management.

For more information about soil protection, consult the Soil Strategy for England report published by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA, 2009)".

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