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Background Knowledge

Soil functions

Soil functions
Credits: Equalstock via Unsplash

Soil functions are dynamic soil properties that emerge from complex interacting biogeophysical processes within the soil and that are relevant for human well-being. They are the basis for soil related ecosystem services and resource use efficiency. The concept of soil functions highlights the relevance of soils for human societies and facilitates their structured scientific assessment.

Soil functions first gained prominence through the proposed European Soil Thematic Strategy (EU 2006). For agricultural soils, five functions are considered particularly relevant (Schulte et al., 2014; Helming et al., 2018; Vogel et al., 2018):

  • Production of plant biomass

  • Storing and filtering of water

  • Storing and recycling of nutrients

  • Habitat provision

  • Carbon storage

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