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Role of soil biota in soil functioning and ecosystem service provision
Convener: Rachel Creamer  | Co-Conveners: Michiel Rutgers , Martin Potthoff , Stefan Schrader , Johann Zaller 
 / Mon, 24 Apr, 13:30–17:15
 / Attendance Mon, 24 Apr, 17:30–19:00

The global policy agenda stresses that a sustainable future principally relies on: (1) the production of enough food to feed a growing world population; (2) the efficient use of the world’s natural resources such as water, soil and nutrients. The Soil Thematic Strategy (2006) identified five key soil functions, which are of utmost importance in agricultural systems: 1) production of food, fibre and fuel, 2) carbon cycling and storage, 3) water purification and regulation, 4) cycling and sequestration of external nutrients added to the soil and 5) a habitat for biodiversity.
All soils have the capability to perform multiple functions simultaneously, but the delivery of each function varies across soil types, land uses and climatic regions. To add to which, there is a fragile interaction between soil management and the delivery of soil functions, pushing the system to deliver 1 function at the cost of all others, results in an unsustainable system. It is however unlikely that all functions will be delivered maximally in any given situation. Can we propose an optimum, with e.g. three out of the five functions to ensure future sustainability?

This session will focus on the role of soil biology in delivering soil functions in agricultural systems and the synergies and trade-offs that occur within the bundle of soil functions, crossing several spatial and temporal scales. Additionally we welcome contributions aiming at promotion of agricultural practices that aim to optimize the multi-functionality of soils.