Soil Fertility Assessment of an High Natural Value Eligible Area in South-Eastern Transylvania

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Abstract

As low-input environmentally friendly agricultural practices are currently associated with the delivery of a wide range of public goods and socioeconomic benefits, the strategy of European Union in mitigating climate change effects, protecting environment and ensuring public health has, among others, focused around preserving the High Natural Value (HNV) areas. About a quarter of the land in Romania is potentially covered by HNV farming and eligible for associated support payments, mostly along the chain of the Carpathian Mountains. Since soil systematic data on HNV area are scarce, recent research developments currently undertake to build up a first national HNV soil data base.

Soil fertility state in a HNV payment eligible area of south-eastern Transylvania was studied in seven in-depth dug profiles and seven additional shallow dug profiles. Soil samples were taken by genetic horizons as well as agrochemical samples from the upper soil layers (0-20 cm). Physical, chemical, and microbiological analyses revealed that the studied soils have a medium clayey loamy texture, good fertility and are subject to an adequate HNV management in the area, as the analytical values mostly range in favorable intervals for plant growth and nutrition. Thus, soil reaction is moderately acid up to slightly alkaline in the presence of carbonates, the soil organic matter, generally well mineralized, reaches fair levels and the high and very high cation exchange capacity ensure good conditions for plants growth and nutrition whilst nitrogen and potassium supply is adequate. Phosphorus is the only element in short supply – a situation often encountered in Romania unfertilized soils. Soil bulk density and total porosity are also favorable for root growth and spreading and plant nutrition. Microorganisms’ activity is diverse and is also adequate for plant nutrition.

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