Quantitative Evaluation of Soil Functions: Potential and State

Frontiers in Environmental Science. 2019;7 DOI 10.3389/fenvs.2019.00164


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Journal Title: Frontiers in Environmental Science

ISSN: 2296-665X (Online)

Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.

LCC Subject Category: Geography. Anthropology. Recreation: Environmental sciences

Country of publisher: Switzerland

Language of fulltext: English

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Hans-Jörg Vogel (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany)
Einar Eberhardt (Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Hanover, Germany)
Uwe Franko (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany)
Birgit Lang (Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Görlitz, Görlitz, Germany)
Mareike Ließ (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany)
Ulrich Weller (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany)
Martin Wiesmeier (TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan, Technical University of Munich, Freising, Germany)
Ute Wollschläger (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany)


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Time From Submission to Publication: 12 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Soils play a key role for the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Thus, soils are essential for human society not only because they form the basis for the production of food. This has long been recognized, and during the last three decades the need to establish methods to evaluate the ability of soils to provide soil functions has moved toward the top of the agenda in soil science. Quantitative evaluation schemes are indispensable to adequately include soils into strategies to reach sustainable development targets. In this paper we build upon existing approaches and propose a concept to evaluate individual soil functions with respect to the soil's intrinsic potential in contrast to its actual state. This leads to a separation of indicator variables and allows for conclusions on the structure of appropriate models that are required to predict the dynamics of soil functions in response to external perturbation. This concept is demonstrated for the production function, carbon storage and water storage which are evaluated exemplarily for different plots of a long-term field experiment. It is discussed for nutrient cycling and habitat function, where evaluation schemes are still less obvious.