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Langewitz, Theresa; Wiedner, Katja; Polifka, Steven and Eckmeier, Eileen (2021): Pedological properties related to formation and functions of ancient ridge and furrow cultivation in Central and Northern Germany. In: Catena, Vol. 198, 105049

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Ridge and furrow cultivation is an example for a historic agriculture technique that has been very common in Germany, especially during medieval times. It seemed to be well-known how the ridge and furrows (RIFUs) were used and formed but previous studies came to contradictory conclusions which raised additional questions concerning their formation. Furthermore, the RIFUs' morphological and physicochemical soil properties and their influence on current soils that developed after the RIFUs had been abandoned are not fully understood. In order to answer these questions, morphological and physicochemical analyses (pH, EC, TOC, TN, delta N-15, C:N ratios, Olsen P, soil texture) were conducted on 11 preserved RIFUs in forested areas of Northern and Central Germany. The results showed that the studied RIFUs occur on sites with different properties (e.g. soil texture, inclination, vegetation) and presented various morphological shapes. They are also characterised by differences in the formation of soil horizons and general low TN (<1.5 g kg(-1)) and TOC (<10 g kg(-1)) contents. However, higher contents at some sites comparing to their references, indicated that the RIFU cultivation promoted a slight long-lasting soil improvement if not induced by secondary soil processes after RIFU use. Moreover, for some sites, high P and delta N-15 values may suggest the application of manure. Recent morphological changes also had a significant influence on some study sites. In summary, neither the formation and agricultural strategies of RIFU cultivation nor their function and any influences on the current soil and woodland characteristics can be regarded as identical for all RIFU sites.

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