Predicting food production potential of urban vacant lots through soil quality

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Title: Predicting food production potential of urban vacant lots through soil quality
Creators: Cheng, Zhiqiang
Contributors: Knight, Alexandra; Glover, Rachael; Quaye, Kobina; Roman, Victoria; Yadav, Priyanka; Sharma, Kuhuk; Grewal, Sharanbir; Islam, Rafiq; Kleinhenz, Matthew; Grewal, Parwinder
Keywords: urban ecology
urban vacant lots
community gardens
soil nematode food web
food production potential
soil productivity
soil quality
urban soils
urban horticulture
Issue Date: 2011
Series/Report no.: Entomology. Graduate student poster competition, 2011
Abstract: Post-industrial cities such as Cleveland have accumulated substantial number of vacant lots due to home foreclosures and urban sprawl over the past two decades. Interest in this land has escalated recently due to increased demand for food security in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods. We measured soil physical, chemical, and biological parameters in vacant lots in the Hough neighborhood in Cleveland to assess their suitability for food production. Each lot was divided into three approximately equal sections and nine soil cores were collected from each section. The results revealed huge spatial variability in soil properties within vacant lots. Soil pH ranged from 6.24-7.46 and moisture from 1.5-20.5%. Soil clay content ranged from 4-33%, sand 40-92%, and silt 0-50%. Soil NH4-N ranged from 1.7-21.0 ppm, NO3-N from 2.3-35.3 ppm, microbial biomass from 40.2-245.7 ppm (N), soil organic matter from 2.0-7.0%, and soil active carbon from 413.3-694.8 mg/kg. Thirty-four nematode genera were identified, and nematode abundance ranged from 34 to 988 per sample. Soil active carbon, a rapid soil quality indicator, significantly correlated with other measures of ecosystem condition including NH4-N, microbial biomass, soil organic matter, nematode abundance, maturity index, and combined maturity index. Principle Component Analysis revealed that vacant lots had less structured soil food webs than turfgrass lawns, but not from community gardens and vegetable farms. There were also no differences in nematode abundance, genus diversity, and enrichment index among vacant lots, turfgrass lawns, community gardens and vegetable farms. Our results indicate high potential for food production in urban vacant lots.
Related Item: Urban Landscape Ecology Program
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