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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Environ. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2019.00164

Quantitative evaluation of soil functions: potential and state

 Hans-Joerg Vogel1*,  Einar Eberhardt2, Uwe Franko1,  Birgit Lang3, Mareike Ließ1, Ulrich Weller4,  Martin Wiesmeier5 and  Ute Wollschläger1
  • 1Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Germany
  • 2Federal Institute For Geosciences and Natural Resources, Germany
  • 3Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt, Germany
  • 4Department of Soil System Science, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Germany
  • 5Weihenstephan Science Center for Food, Land Use and Environment, Technical University of Munich, Germany

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 been recognized since long and during the last three decades the need to establish methods to evaluate the ability of soils to provide soil functions has moved towards 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 natural 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 the habitat function where evaluation schemes are still less obvious.

Keywords: soil function, ecosys tems ervices, Soil indicators, modelling, Soil evaluation

Received: 02 Apr 2019; Accepted: 02 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Vogel, Eberhardt, Franko, Lang, Ließ, Weller, Wiesmeier and Wollschläger. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Hans-Joerg Vogel, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Leipzig, Germany,