Sustainable soils: Synthesis

TitleSustainable soils: Synthesis
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsHerrick JE, Six J.
Book TitleSoil Ecology and Ecosystem Sevices
PublisherOxford University Press
ARIS Log Number274317
Keywordsbook chapter

The six chapters of the "Sustainable Soils" section of the book "Soil Ecology and Ecoystem Services" support the fundamental role that soil biota play in sustaining soil structure and nutrient cycling as the foundation for nearly all ecosystem services while illustrating the challenges of documenting explicit, consistent relationships. Provisioning services, including crop production, were the focus of the majority of the studies cited in this section and a high proportion of the management system comparisons are limited to conventional tillage against some form of organic or conservation tillage-based system. Despite these inherent limitations of the existing literature, a number of lessons can be drawn. Five that are particularly significant were each cited in at least two of the chapters: (1) the importance of spatial and temporal context for interpreting soil biota-sustainability relationships, (2) the importance of systematic approaches, common methods, and protocols to study soil biota – sustainability relationships, (3) the value of long-term studies for identifying and validating functional relationships, particularly where chronic, cumulative and acute disturbances are involved, (4) the potential value of local knowledge for identifying, documenting and monitoring these relationships, and (5) the extent to which hysteresis must be considered to understand and predict the potential contribution of soil biota to resilience and restoration.