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Manuring practices in Scotland: Deep anthropogenic soils and the historical record

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses a project which used historical sources to investigate the distribution throughout Scotland and the Isles of a specific human-modified soil. Deep anthropogenic top soils are those which have been augmented by long-term, intensive manuring to a minimum of 50 cm, although examples of over a metre have been recorded. Generically termed 'plaggen soils', these deep, dark soils are significant cultural features seen throughout Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and especially the Netherlands, from which the most extensive body of plaggen soil research comes. The degree to which the plaggen system permeated aspects of agricultural life and civic organisation make for interesting study, and are frequently illustrated in the historical record. In the Netherlands, heath and especially grassland areas that supplied plaggen turf were governed by regulations which attempted to balance manuring and grazing concerns, with complex rotations in place to promote heathland regeneration between turf cuttings.

Keywords: Belgium; deep anthropogenic soils; Denmark; Germany; historical sources; intensive manuring; Netherland; Scotland



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