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A process performed by a few species of anaerobic soil bacteria in which nitrite or nitrate is converted to nitrogen gas (N2) or nitrous oxide (N2O). Both N2 and N2O are volatile and lost to the atmosphere.


The accumulation of eroded soil material on the soil surface


The process in which relatively dry land becomes increasingly arid, typically losing its bodies of water as well as vegetation and wildlife either directly via climate change or indirectly via soil degradation resulting from poor management.


Organisms that eat detritus, that is, dead plants and animals.

Diagnostic Horizon

Horizontal soil layers characterized by a combination of attributes that reflect widespread, common results of the processes of soil formation (Bridges, 1997) or indicates specific conditions of soil formation.(WRB, 2006).


Liquid or solid residues produced by fermentation of biomass (anaerobic digestion) in a biogas plant.

Direct sowing, direct drilling

Planting crops in a non-inverted soil without seedbed preparation (i.e. under no-tillage).


An ecosystem disturbance can be natural or human induced stress. An example of a natural disturbance is a hurricane or a tornado. An example of a human-induced disturbance is tillage or pesticide application. Examples of disturbances that can affect soil include drought, fire, harvest, tillage, compaction, overgrazing, or addition of pesticides.


Biological diversity can refer to the number of species in an area, the number of types of species (e.g. microbial functional groups, or plant structural types), the degree of genetic variability within a species, or the distribution of species within an area.

DPSIR analysis

Drivers-Pressures-States-Impacts-Responses analysis of a subject (EEA, 2007). The driving forces can be either environmental or biophysical (including pedo-climatic zonation and soil type) or external (driven by the market, by policy, scientific innovations, etc.), the pressures here are the soil threats, the states are relevant soil quality (health) indicators, whereas the impacts are the resulting effects of the interplay of driving forces, pressures and responses, in this case SICS.

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