Soil health and carbon storage in community gardens in the Perth metropolitan area, Australia

Haochen Zhao, James O'Connor, Sarah Zou, Zakaria M. Solaiman, Bede S. Mickan, Nanthi Bolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Community gardens, as common spaces where people gather to grow food, help foster public health, greener urban environments, life-long learning and vibrant communities. However, despite being promoted as sustainable horticulture and conservation agriculture, their soil health and carbon (C) sequestration potential, with implication for climate change mitigation, remains underexplored. This study assessed soil samples collected from raised beds (gardening area) and adjacent bare ground (control) at six community gardens in the Perth metropolitan area, Australia. These sites covered three soil mapping units (SMUs): calcareous deep sands, coloured sand and pale sands The soil in raised beds exhibited superior characteristics than surrounding urban soil including lower bulk density, higher pH buffering capacity, available nutrients including nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), cation exchange capacity (CEC), total C and microbial biomass. Notably, we estimated that raised bed soils accumulated significant levels of C in the top 10 cm layer (0.55 kg/m2 or 5.5 T/ha). Our findings also indicate no significant heavy metal contamination in any of the community garden soils. Although the global area of community gardens is marginally small, these results suggest they hold potential for carbon sequestration, especially in urban and peri-urban environments. The improved soil health and C storage potential in community garden soil are largely attributed to the regular application of compost produced within the community gardens.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13033
Number of pages17
JournalSoil Use and Management
Volume40
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

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