One form of potential soil degradation that is attracting increasing amounts of interest in New Zealand is diffuse soil contamination from the accumulation of inorganic chemicals such as trace elements.
Trace elements can accumulate in soils either naturally through weathering of minerals contained in soil parent material or from anthropogenic sources. While many trace elements are essential for healthy plant and animal growth, i.e. copper, zinc and nickel, at high concentrations in soils these can have a negative impact on soil fertility and plant and animal health. Furthermore, some trace elements, i.e. cadmium, lead and arsenic are not required in soils and their accumulation can also have a negative impact on soil, plant and animal health, and in some cases there is potential for them to accumulate in the human food chain.
A report summarising trace element concentrations in soils sampled from 126 sites across Marlborough representing different soil types and land use activities has been compiled.