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Soil quality assessments: from simple methods to innovative analytical applications
Convener: Maricke van Leeuwen  | Co-Conveners: Cathelijne Stoof , Nicholas Holden , Tonu Tonutare 
 / Thu, 21 Apr, 15:30–17:00

Soil quality plays a key role in securing food production, water availability, biodiversity, and greenhouse gas mitigation. These are just a few soil functions defined by FAO.
Techniques from the simple to more complex analytical methods allow to investigation of states, processes and mechanisms in soils and to assess the status of the environment in terms of soil health, quality and security.
A range of simple techniques exists to describe and assess soil quality. Many of them are rapid and cost-effective, such as visual soil assessment, visual evaluation of soil structure, and the soil fertility toolkit. These simple techniques can often be applied by a wide range of stakeholders, to assess soil quality from various perspectives.
In addition there are now many innovative analytical methods and instrumental techniques used for separation and determination of chemical and biochemical compounds of both known and unknown structure in mineral and organic soils, sediments, substrates and compost.
This wide range of approaches is needed to best analyse complex soil functions, especially when various stakeholders and interests are present at a particular site, or when comparison of soil quality or soil function is made between sites with contrasting land use, climate or soil type.

This session presents contributions that have studied or applied simple and complex techniques for assessments of soil function, with a focus on how to deal with the assessment of multiple soil functions at a particular site, and how to compare soil quality across sites. The results presented during this session are expected to provide a better insight into chemical, physical and biological processes and mechanisms in soils, and help explain their function in the environment.