Soil multifunctionality
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    Michael O. Asare, Wazi Apoh, Jerry Owusu Afriyie, Jiřina Száková, Dinkayehu Alamnie Asrade
    Soil Ecology Letters, 2023, 5(3): 220164.

    ● Past human activities result in the formation of Anthrosols and the accumulation of nutrients.

    ● Enrichment in physicochemical properties relates to the intensity of settlement activities.

    ● The level of releasability contributes to the extended retention of nutrients in soils.

    ● Past settlement sites represent nutrient-rich Anthrosols suitable for arable fields.

    The fertility of human-altered soils, Anthrosols, developed from past settlement activities for crop production is scarcely studied. The study evaluated the fertility of Anthrosols developed from the 15th to mid-20th century AD settlement in Old Buipe, Savanna region, Ghana, to determine whether abandoned localities are suitable for arable fields. Human activities enhanced the physical attributes of the Anthrosols: brown to dark brown intergrain fine soil, 15%−35% organic matter, 15%−30% potsherd, and 5%−15% charred materials. The Anthrosols were slightly acidic to neutral reactions (\textcolor[RGB]32,147,147pH[H2O] 5.67−6.83, \textcolor[RGB]32,147,147pH[CaCl2] 5.83−6.95), high cation exchange capacity (CEC; 18.77−45.31me/100 g), electric conductivity (EC = 0.28−0.36 dS m−1), accumulation, and distribution of organic C, total N, P, Mn, Cu, Zn, K, and Fe, and available P, K, Ca, Mg, S, Mn, Fe, Cu, and Zn. Plant-available nutrients were comparatively higher than concentrations in non-anthropogenic soils. The level of releasability (bioavailable fractions of total concentrations) of P, K, Ca, Mn, Fe, Cu, and Zn partly compensates for low plant-available portions. Enrichment of chemical and physical properties of Anthrosols make them fertile for arable fields. The signatures of settlement activities are strong and can remain in soils for a long time, even under harsh environmental conditions.