Project objectives:

The term “Edaphon” (édaphos: ground, floor) is a collective noun for organisms that live in the soil, decompose dead plant material and form soil organic matter (SOM, humus). The Edaphon consists of soil microfauna (bacteria, fungi), mesofauna (small invertebrates) and macrofauna (earthworms).

The aim of the project is to build and test the prototype of a new soil environmental monitoring tool, called EDAPHOLOG System. EDAPHOLOG System will be constructed for measuring parameters of the soil biota to assess soil biological and microbiological activity, soil ecological degradation and soil biodiversity from field to landscape level, respectively. Through this technological advance monitoring and spatial delineation of soil biological degradation and contamination, ecological control of agricultural practice, detection of soil biodiversity hot spots will become feasible in such extent that is unavailable at present. EDAPHOLOG System will make possible to prepare very detailed and large-scale mapping of soil quality in a very cost-efficient, fast way. In addition, therefore, detailed and large scale long-term monitoring of soils can be implemented – a need that has not yet been satisfied anywhere in the world.

The EDAPHOLOG System covers the whole methodological process of the biological monitoring of soils:

  1. Monitoring Design: GIS based spatial sampling plan and sample size optimization are obtained by using soil and land-use databases, agri-environmental farm diary data and remotely sensed aerial photos.
  2. Sampling:
        a) automatic counting of the actual abundance of soil mesofauna
        b) automatic detection of the activity of the microorganisms
        c) automatic body mass classification to characterize the composition of soil fauna
        d) automatic measurements of soil abiotic conditions (moisture, temperature etc.)
  3. Data collecting: Remote data transmission (GSM) and logging system
  4. Data handling: Relational database for the logged soil biological and environmental raw data
  5. Data evaluation: Biological, ecological and statistical evaluation, spatial extension modeling
  6. Data publication: Database programming for built-in time series chart generation (MS- SQL), GIS mapping (Arc-INFO), internet based map server servicing (Autodesk Map server and viewer)
Novelty of the EDAPHOLOG System:

The EDAPHOLOG System is composed of an innovative sampling tool designed to spatially and temporally sequential sampling schemes and a novel detecting system consisting of different electronic detecting sensors, an own logging system for GSM remote data-transmitting and date storage and an applied evaluation procedure for estimating soil biological activity, ecological state and soil biodiversity.

In the frame of the project “MONTABIO” 1 and “KEOP” 2 our research team already worked on the development of some elements of the EDAPHOLOG system.
According to these elements progress has been made in the following activities:

Field sampling trials: In 2009 we test the “0” version of soil pin traps in arable lands. We compare accuracies of different soil biological indicators including microbiological and genetic tests for the monitoring of biological consequences of soil pollution (MONTABIO)
Sampling design: We elaborate protocols for monitoring soil biological monitoring in that soil biological degradation is one element. Sample size optimization and allocation sampling sites are in progress. (KEOP)

Research activities of our research group in RISSAC from the last years might be a good background for the project. Some publications have been sited here to show it, (further data on our research are available at
1) László P, Szabó J, Pásztor L, Dombos M, Bakacsi, Zs. (2006) Soil Status Assessment for the Compilation of Soil Maps with Increased Accuracy. Cereal Research Communications, 34, 235-237.
2) Pásztor L, Szabó J, Bakacsi Zs, László P, Dombos, M. (2006): Large-scale soil maps improved by digital soil mapping and GIS-based soil status assessment, Agrokémia és Talajtan, 55, 2006; 79-88.

Actions and means involved:

Action 1: Project management
1.1. Directing the project (controlling of actions, workshop organisation, communication of partners)
1.2. Reporting (inception report, mid-term report, final report)

Action 2: Design and manufacture of the Prototype of the EDAPHOLOG System
2.1. Design and manufacture of the mechanical construction –Soil Pin Traps-
2.2. Design and manufacture of the electronic sensors
2.3. Assemblage of the data transmitting and storage system

Action 3: Laboratory and outdoor tests of the Prototype
3.1. Laboratory tests for estimating the catching ability and electronic detection ability of the Prototype with lab soil animals in different soil types
3.2. Outdoor experiments for testing long term (2 months) functioning of the Prototype

Action 4: Demonstrative Field test
4.1. Experimental design of monitoring in the pilot area (200 measurement points in arable lands, grasslands and forests)
4.2. Establishing and performing monitoring
4.3. Evaluation of results

Action 5: Dissemination of the results
5.1. Design and operate project web site
5.2. Producing layman’s report
5.3. Media appearance, dissemination of the results in the scientific community

Expected results (outputs and quantified achievements):

  1. Prototype of the EDAPHOLOG System: the prototype of the EDAPHOLOG System will be produced in the projects.
  2. Tests of the EDAPHOLOG System: The prototype of the EDAPHOLOG System will be tested; the accuracy and precision of the measuring instrument will be quantified.
  3. Demonstration of the EDAPHOLOG System: The working of the EDAPHOLOG System will be demonstrated in field situation. In the pilot area (200 monitoring sites of the NAEP-National Agri-Enviroment Program- in Pest county) soil biological activity time series data and maps will be produced in the pilot study.
  4. Publication of the EDAPHOLOG System: The results of the monitoring data will be published in peer review scientific journals and in internet. A new home page will be established for the project, the server and the home page of the RISSAC will be used for internet publications.

Quantified project objectives:

The main objective of the project is the EDAPHOLOG system itself, which consists of the following elements:

  1. Prototype of the EDAPHOLOG System:

  2.        Soil Pin Traps (200 pieces) – device
           Central GSM Receiver (2 pieces) – device
           GIS based sampling design tool – Arc Info software application
           Data analysis – Statistica software application
           Internet based publication – MapGuide application

    Complementary Deliverables:
  3. Documentation of the Prototype (technical) (1 pc.)

  4. Documentation of the Prototype (results of lab and outdoor biological experiments)

  5. Scientific publications (results of lab and outdoor experiments, field tests)
Here we will shortly present the quality of the objective. Quantification of the objective will be done by comparing the efficiency of the methods available now and achievable by using the proposed system.
Costs: in the Reporsts of the Technical Working Groups established under the Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection Volume – Monitoring, 2004. Joint Research Centre EUR 21319 EN/5, In pages 678-680 several costs of the national soil monitoring are published. Biological activity analysis in Hungary = 167 Euro (Cellulose test, dehydrogenase activity, CO2 production), without sampling costs; In Germany a simple analysis (basal respiration) costs 60 Euro, without sampling costs.
Taking into account that for estimation of biological activity at least three to five replications are needed in time, for one sampling point in a year, the laboratory costs can reach 180-835 Euro without sampling costs.
The laboratory costs of the measurements on soil mesofauna (Collembola) are even higher, because the procedure is time consuming and needs specialist (taxonomist).
If we calculate the cost of the prototype (2 M Euro), working on 200 points simultaneously, data for one point costs 10 000 Euro. So the payback would be more than ten years! Or if, we would used the system ten times per year, the costs would decrease to 1000 Euro (near to current costs). More detailed cost-benefit analysis might be certainly needed for the further product development. However, the ratios seem to be visible.
The advantage of the Edapholog system is the higher accuracies and precision, achievable, compared to the current ones. Soil biologists are agreed that both errors occur in current soil biological measurements. Increasing of replication in time and space to increase precision are usually not available, because of the high costs.
The most important constraint in estimation of soil biological activity is the very high variability in time. This product would be measure biological activity continuously, giving a mush more precise estimation of the biological activity. Temporal measurement could provide new opportunities: e.g. in climate change research seasonal variation of environmental data is elementary to assess environmental changes that objective cannot be quantified.

Quantitative environmental indicators measured by the proposed system:

Indicator 1a. Number of soil microarthropods / m2 / day

Abundances of mircoarthropods are measured in all soil biodiversity study concerning soil mesofauna published in peer reviewed soil biological journals (e.g. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Applied Soil Ecology, Pedobiology). This measure is equivalent to the soil biodiversity indicator for Collembola proposed by the ENVASSO project.

Indicator 1b. Size distribution of the microarthropods

This indicator is rarely measured in soil ecological studies, instead, because it is very time-consuming to assess. However, the device proposed here can provide a measure for size distribution that can be a measure for biodiversity, as well.

Indicator 2. Bbiological activity: Percent of food substrate consumed by microbes and invertebrates. This indicator is similar to Bait lamina test.

At present the most widely used methods are litter-bag methods and the bait-lamina test. These are so called "integrative methods", since they assess both soil microbial and soil invertebrate activity in the investigated soil layers and do not allow for a differentiation in the role played by different organism groups. Aiming at the description of the organic matter turnover process, these investigation methods focus on the litter layer and the upper mineral layer of the soils. Depending on the thickness of these layers, sometimes the feeding activity of the upper mineral soil layer fauna can also be assesses by the bait-lamina test.

1Complex monitoring system for analytical detection and biological evaluation of soil micropollutants for a sustainable environment (MONTABIO, 2008-2010) NKFP_07_A4-MONTABIO
2National Soil Degradation Monitoring System, KEOP-6.3.0/1F-2008-0013