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Soil quality assessment in degraded ecosystems: Global advances and challenges (co-organized) | PICO
Convener: Isabel Miralles Mellado  | Co-Conveners: Raúl Zornoza , Felipe Bastida , Mirko Castellini , R. Lal , Maurício Cherubin 
 / Thu, 27 Apr, 15:30–17:00

Healthy soils and sustainable soil management are vital for functioning of ecosystems and for the accomplishment of its multiple functions as improvement of biological productivity, regulation of water fluxes, mitigating the harmful effects of contaminants by physical, chemical and biological processes, C cycling, and even improving human health.

The indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources as a result of aggressive human activity (i.e., mining exploitation, deforestation, agriculture or heavy grazing) has led to the degradation of about 2,000 million hectares of land, equivalent to 15% of the emerged earth's surface. Soil degradation is understood as the decline of soil operating capacity and productivity through adverse changes in the soil structural properties and contents of nutrients and organic matter, limiting the development of plant cover and the belowground microbial communities.

In this context soil reclamation and restoration, understood as the process to recover degraded ecosystems as near as possible to their original conditions in terms of plant productivity and biodiversity, is essential from the orbit of sustainable development and maintenance of soil quality. Soil quality assessment has long been a challenging issue because of their high variability and the absence of universal standards of soil quality.

Soil quality (SQ) has been traditionally studied considering physical, chemical, biochemical and/or biological soil indicators and recently new and emerging molecular methods. These studies are crucial to evaluate and monitoring soil quality/health in degraded and restored ecosystems. In addition, soil quality assessments are essential for guiding decision-making, since best management practices in a local perspective to strategic planning and public policies towards a nation sustainable development.

On this session studies on soil quality assessment by using of traditional physical, chemical, biochemical and biological indicators in degraded, restored, reclamated or rehabilitated soils, and also in agricultural-livestock and urban soils are very welcome. Studies also focused on: i) new SQ assessment frameworks and indexing approaches, ii) on-farm SQ assessment strategies and its practical application challenges, iii) studies that exploring the relationship between SQ and ecosystem outputs (i.e., air quality, primary productivity, biodiversity, human wellbeing and health) and, iv) soil quality and public policies, are welcome. In addition, we are looking forwards to seeing studies that using new methodologies as stable isotopes, spectroscopy and molecular indicators based on proteomic and metagenomics techniques that aim to link the phylogeny and functional relationships to the concept of soil quality. Problematics related to the incorporation of molecular and spectroscopic datasets to the development of SQ indexes are needed to be discussed and considered by the scientific community.