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4.1 Types of soil disturbance

Soil disturbance changes the physical, chemical and biological conditions of a soil in which organisms live. Examples of the range of disturbances that occur naturally, accidentally or via land management practices show that soil organisms are exposed to a variety of environmental circumstances including:

Natural Disturbances: drought, fire, flood, large animal diggings (by so-called ‘ecosystem engineers’), plant community development and succession, natural tree-fall (e.g. associated with storms or fires), water erosion and wind erosion.

Disturbances related to land management practices: compost application, prescribed burning, cultivation, fertiliser application, gypsum application, incorporation of organic matter, inoculation with microorganisms, lime application, pesticide application (to soil or plants), revegetation, rotation of crops and pastures, tree harvesting, tree planting and vehicle use.

Industrial or urban disturbances: acid rain, construction, disposal of household waste in soil, disposal of toxic substances in soil, excavation, increased CO2 in the atmosphere, mining, sewage release into the environment, spillage of toxic substances and vehicle use.

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