Blog post by Joanna Niziolomski, Research Fellow in Sustainable Soil Management, Cranfield University
I have recently had the opportunity to work on a rather novel application of soil science. How do differences in corpse burial affect soil health?
The forensic science community have long studied the impact of burial environments on corpse decomposition rates in order to ascertain the time since death in criminal investigations. However, a literature review investigating the composition of corpse and cremated remains, shallow burial and the acceleration of decomposition suggested that the impact of a corpse (cremated or buried) on soil health is unknown.
To begin to address this knowledge gap we have setup an experiment in which chunks of pork have been buried at depths of 0.3 and 1 m.
Over time, the soil surrounding the decomposing meat will be sampled and analysed to ascertain any changes in the chemical and biological composition of the soil. It is hoped that this data can be interpreted to suggest the effect of different burial depths on soil health.