Suitability of 137 Cs Redistribution as an Indicator of Soil Quality

D.J. PENNOCK

Abstract


Despite its great relevance as an indicator of change in soil quality conditions, 137Cs redistribution has not been widely suggested for inclusion in minimum data sets for soil quality evaluations. In part, this is due to a perception that its high variability precludes its use. 137Cs typically has a coefficient of variation of about 20% in the reference sites used to estimate redistribution in disturbed landscapes. Recent studies on changes in soil quality indicators (including 137Cs) in Saskatchewan, Canada and northeastern Ghana indicate that the variability associated with 137Cs in both reference and cultivated sites is very comparable to that for other, commonly measured indicators of soil quality such as organic carbon and soil nitrogen. The sampling requirements for 137Cs are very similar to these other properties (i.e., 15-30 samples per sites are required for accurate estimates of central tendency) and hence its variability should not preclude its adoption as a soil quality indicator.

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