Current applications of the Ecosystems Services (ES) framework to soils are narrowly defined (e.g., soil-based, pedosphere-based, etc.), and focus on soil properties while treating soil as a closed system. Because soil is an open system, it receives and loses matter across its boundaries
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Current applications of the Ecosystems Services (ES) framework to soils are narrowly defined (e.g., soil-based, pedosphere-based, etc.), and focus on soil properties while treating soil as a closed system. Because soil is an open system, it receives and loses matter across its boundaries within Earth’s spheres (atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, ecosphere, and anthroposphere), which also need to be accounted for in economic analysis. In market economies, the market transforms resources from the Earth’s pedosphere and related spheres into goods and services for societal welfare with non-market institutions mediating human and environmental interactions. These transformations and mediations can result not only in welfare but damages as well. The concept of soil ES and ecosystem disservices (ED) is a human-centered framework, which can be a useful tool in business decision-making. Soil ES (e.g., provisioning, regulation/ maintenance, and cultural) are used to produce goods and services, but the value of these ES and ED are not always accounted for as a part of business decision-making. The objective of this review is to illustrate the monetary valuation of ecosystem services of soil systems (SS) with examples based on the organizational hierarchy of soil systems. The organizational hierarchy of soil systems can be used in economic valuations of soil ES by scale (e.g., world, continent), time (e.g., soil, geologic), qualitative and quantitative degrees of computation (e.g., mental, verbal, descriptive, mathematical, deterministic, stochastic), and degree of complexity (e.g., mechanistic, empirical). Soil survey databases, soil analyses, Soil Data Systems (SDS), and Soil Business Systems (SBS) provide tools and a wide range of quantitative/qualitative data and information to evaluate goods and services for various business applications, but these sources of soil data may be limited in scope due to their static nature. Valuation of soil resources based on soil and non-soil science databases (e.g., National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) databases, etc.) is critically needed to account for these ES/ED as part of business decision-making to provide more sustainable use of soil resources. Since most ecosystems on Earth have been modified by human activity, “soil systems goods and services” (SSGS) may be a more applicable term to describe soil contributions (benefits/damages) to economic activity, compared to a term such as “soil ecosystem goods and services.”