Reaching the land-related UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and similar goals articulated by the EU Green Deal (GD) by 2030 presents a major challenge and requires a pragmatic approach focused on joint learning by land users (mostly farmers), researchers and other stakeholders in “Living Labs” and system experiments at experimental farms of research organizations. Defining specific indicators and thresholds for ecosystem services in line with land-related SDGs is crucial to establish “Lighthouses” that can act as inspiring examples if they meet the various thresholds. This exploratory paper discusses indicators and thresholds for an arable farm operating on marine, calcareous light clay soils in the Netherlands. Studies of a system experiment are used to discuss and test operational methodology to be widely applied when characterizing many “Living Labs” in future, as planned by the European Union. The important role of soils in contributing to ecosystem services is discussed in terms of soil health. Recommendations are made for innovative methodology to be associated with all land-related SDGs. Satisfying the thresholds of ecosystem services, which will vary by soil type, region and farm type, can be the basis for farm subsidies, such as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Research on Living Labs and in system experiments has to be judged by different criteria than those associated with traditional linear research. The important contributions of soils to achieve ecosystem services are framed in terms of soil health and are the most effective way to promote soil science in a by now widely desired inter- and transdisciplinary context.
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