About this Research Topic
Soils from urban, industrial, traffic, mining, and military areas (SUITMAs) are impacted and generated by human activities, with strong repercussions for the environment. Due to the extremely adverse properties of some SUITMAs (extreme pH, high concentrations of pollutants), they have traditionally been considered non-productive spaces in the landscape, or even potentially dangerous areas only suited to be sealed or excavated before being buried in dumps. More recent views are underlining the potential role of SUITMAs as providers of different ecosystem services, from water supply to local climate regulation or as an archive of human history.
In a global context of increasing competition between food and non-food (e.g. biofuel) production on arable land soils, the development of SUITMAs as lands suitable for food production (e.g. urban agriculture on pseudo-natural soils) or non-food biomass production (e.g. culture of energy or fiber crops on polluted and/or constructed soils) would reduce the pressure on arable lands. This approach could preserve the food-provision function of arable lands, and also contribute to the sustainability of agricultural systems.
Moreover, the establishment of crops in the areas considered as non-productive would also provide economic benefits for local communities supporting a circular economy. As well as the economic aspects, revegetation and fertility management (e.g. using industrial carbon-rich by-products as organic amendments) of SUITMAs can also contribute to the reduction of organic matter loss in unvegetated areas, C sequestration, elimination of pollutant fluxes by metal immobilization in soils, the re-establishment of nutrient cycles and the recovery of soil microbial communities.
In this Research Topic, we welcome studies focused on the provisioning services rendered by SUITMAs. More precisely, we are calling for manuscripts that address the following topics:
- Feasibility and safety of food production on SUITMAs (either pseudo-natural or engineered soils such as urban gardens or roof-top green gardens), including the analysis of pollutant fluxes (and technologies aimed at decreasing them) on urban horticulture;
- Production of non-food biomass on recovered dumping sites, including the selection of crops for bioenergy/fiber/eco-catalyst purposes, advances on the use of industrial by-products (e.g. papermill sludge, composted wastes, etc.) as soil amendments, soil construction, etc.
- Sustainability of biomass production on SUITMAs, including the life cycle assessment of productive systems on these soils, carbon storage, the development of Decision Support Tools for the selection of the most beneficial option depending on SUITMA conditions, etc.
We hope that the information and experiences gathered in this collection will contribute to the (more than ever) necessary change in the relations between human systems and the biosphere.
Keywords: anthropised soil, food crop, biomass production, urban soils, non-food biomass, suitma, food production
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