The globally increasing demand for food, fiber, and bio-based products interferes with the ability of arable soils to perform their multiple functions and support sustainable development. Sustainable soil management under high production conditions means that soil functions contribute to ecosystem services and biodiversity, natural and economic resources are utilized efficiently, farming remains profitable, and production conditions adhere to ethical and health standards. Research in support of sustainable soil management requires an interdisciplinary approach to three interconnected challenges: (i) understanding the impacts of soil management on soil processes and soil functions; (ii) assessing the sustainability impacts of soil management, taking into account the heterogeneity of geophysical and socioeconomic conditions; and (iii) having a systemic understanding of the driving forces and constraints of farmers’ decision-making on soil management and how governance instruments may, interacting with other driving forces, steer sustainable soil management. The intention of this special issue is to take stock of an emerging interdisciplinary research field addressing the three challenges of sustainable soil management in various geographic settings. In this editorial, we summarize the contributions to the special issue and place them in the context of the state of the art. We conclude with an outline of future research needs.
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