Next Article in Journal
Farmer Field Schools (FFSs): A Tool Empowering Sustainability and Food Security in Peasant Farming Systems in the Nicaraguan Highlands
Next Article in Special Issue
Leverage Points for Governing Agricultural Soils: A Review of Empirical Studies of European Farmers’ Decision-Making
Previous Article in Journal
Electric Bicycle Lane-Changing Behavior under Strategy Games
Previous Article in Special Issue
The ‘Invisible’ Subsoil: An Exploratory View of Societal Acceptance of Subsoil Management in Germany
Open AccessArticle

Applying Soil Health Indicators to Encourage Sustainable Soil Use: The Transition from Scientific Study to Practical Application

1
SRUC, Crop and Soil Systems Research Group, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK
2
Wageningen Environmental Research, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3021; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093021
Received: 30 July 2018 / Revised: 6 August 2018 / Accepted: 16 August 2018 / Published: 24 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
The sustainable management of land for agricultural production has at its core a healthy soil, because this reduces the quantity of external inputs, reduces losses of nutrients to the environment, maximises the number of days when the soil can be worked, and has a pore structure that maximises both the retention of water in dry weather and drainage of water in wet weather. Soil health encompasses the physical, chemical, and biological features, but the use of biological indicators is the least well advanced. Sustainability also implies the balanced provision of ecosystem services, which can be more difficult to measure than single indicators. We describe how the key components of the soil food web contribute to a healthy soil and give an overview of the increasing number of scientific studies that have examined the use of biological indicators. A case study is made of the ecosystem service of water infiltration, which is quite an undertaking to measure directly, but which can be inferred from earthworm abundance and biodiversity which is relatively easy to measure. This highlights the difficulty of putting any monitoring scheme into practice and we finish by providing the considerations in starting a new soil health monitoring service in the UK and in maintaining biological monitoring in The Netherlands. View Full-Text
Keywords: ecosystem services; soil food web; earthworms; monitoring; water infiltration ecosystem services; soil food web; earthworms; monitoring; water infiltration
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Griffiths, B.S.; Faber, J.; Bloem, J. Applying Soil Health Indicators to Encourage Sustainable Soil Use: The Transition from Scientific Study to Practical Application. Sustainability 2018, 10, 3021.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map

1
Back to TopTop