SSS8.4 | Soil indicators and approaches for assessing ecosystem services and soil health status
Soil indicators and approaches for assessing ecosystem services and soil health status
Convener: Stefano Mocali | Co-conveners: Isabelle Cousin, Marialaura BancheriECSECS, Jack H. Faber, Fabio Terribile, Romina Lorenzetti, Christian Walter
| Fri, 28 Apr, 14:00–15:45 (CEST), 16:15–18:00 (CEST)
Room -2.20
Posters on site
| Attendance Fri, 28 Apr, 08:30–10:15 (CEST)
Hall X3
Orals |
Fri, 14:00
Fri, 08:30
Soil functions contribute to provide (soil-based) ecosystem services (ES), here defined as the benefits human obtain from the ecosystem. Although most of these functions are related to the soil biological activity, the current status and trends in soil biodiversity across Europe are poorly known, and adequate taxonomical and functional indicators are needed to evaluate the vulnerability of soils and its ES to climate change. Thus, in order to assess the health status of soils, i.e. its capacity of continuous provision of ecosystem services, there is the need to define robust indicators for assessment and monitoring, in joint programming with participating Member States’ national policy and programmes for soil quality monitoring, with taking into account not only biological processes but embracing all the bio-chemical-physical processes occurring in soils. As soil-based ecosystem services co-occur in space and overlap interacting at different spatial and temporal scales, their spatial distribution, as well as their spatial synergies and trade-offs must also be known.
The aim of this session is then collecting contributions on functional indicators, their modelling and mapping, as well as methodological approaches and applications at different spatial scales aimed to the characterization of bundles of soil ES and soil threats. The definition and evaluation of indicators including specific references to soil biodiversity and target values for healthy soils are particularly welcome.

Orals: Fri, 28 Apr | Room -2.20

Chairpersons: Isabelle Cousin, Marialaura Bancheri, Fabio Terribile
On-site presentation
Angelo Basile, Marco Acutis, Antonello Bonfante, Marco Botta, Giuliano Langella, Piero Manna, Alessia Perego, Angela Puig-Sirera, Fabio Terribile, and Marialaura Bancheri

A formal definition and quantification of soil health is still a long way off. However, a broad consensus is based on the close connection between the soil capacity to provide ecosystem services and its state of health.

We propose a integrate assessment of multiple potential soil-based ecosystem services through the use of a process-based modelling, simulating the water flow and the crop growth in the soil-plant-atmosphere system.

Specifically, we evaluate the soil contribution to i) Food provision through the biomass estimation; ii) Nutrient and pollutants retention and release through the estimation of soil filtering capacity; iii) Water regulation/runoff and flood control through the number of days showing a potential runoff triggering; iv) Water regulation/water storage through the water yearly stored in the soil; v) Water regulation/groundwater recharge through its yearly value; and vi) Microclimate regulation through the total evapotranspiration. All of the above ecosystem services are combined into one indicator of soil health. 

The proposed approach was framed in the context of the geospatial Decision Support Systems LandSupport ( that, in the latest years, proved to be powerful instruments for the what-if scenario analysis in support of multiple stockholders and end-users.

Through the what-if scenario analysis the end-user can evaluate the soil health resilience of a specific soil by simulating the effects of some degradation processes occurrence: i) a compacted plow layer at a chosen ploughing depth, ii) a compacted soil surface, iii) a thickness reduction of the Ap horizon following an erosion process. Furthermore, the gain in soil health can be evaluated by simulating the effect of an increase of organic matter.

The Soil Health tool is designed to assist Public Authorities, such as regional environmental agencies, farmers and farmer advisors in designing plans and in evaluation of impacts of the measures in order to ensure a good health of the soils.

How to cite: Basile, A., Acutis, M., Bonfante, A., Botta, M., Langella, G., Manna, P., Perego, A., Puig-Sirera, A., Terribile, F., and Bancheri, M.: A web-based tool for the quantification of the soil health based on Ecosystem Services, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-8079,, 2023.

On-site presentation
Ottone Scammacca, Alice Cadero, Sabina Asins, Giulia Bondi, Luboš Borůvka, Gabriele Buttafuoco, Costanza Calzolari, Martina Czuba, Cecilie Foldal, Armin Hofbauer, Liia Kukk, Erica Lumini, Eduardo Medina Roldàn, Kerstin Michel, Maria José Molina, Lilian O'Sullivan, Sylwia Pindral, Elsa Putku, Barbara Kitzler, and Christian Walter and the Ottone Scammacca

Prospective studies and scenario-based approaches are pivotal to support land planning, agricultural and environmental management. The integration of soils within such approaches have recently developed significantly, alongside the increasing attention given to soil-related ecosystem services (ES). Such interest is explained by the urgent need to assess how soil ecosystem services and their related threats (ST) (e.g. soil erosion, soil biodiversity loss, soil contamination, soil sealing) may evolve in response to potential changes in climate, production systems or land management. This generally involves describing the dynamics of soil changes over time as a function of different driving forces (e.g., climate change, public policies), but also assessing variations in space considering soil characteristics.

A group of researchers participating in the SERENA project of the EJP Soil program conducted a meta-analysis to study the methods used in existing prospective studies focusing on six soil ES (e.g. biomass production, habitat for biodiversity, hydrological control, environmental pollution control, greenhouse gas and climate regulation, pest and disease control) and ten ST (e.g. soil erosion, soil organic carbon loss, nutrient imbalance, soil acidification, soil contamination, waterlogging, soil compaction, soil sealing, salinization, loss of diversity). Approximately 150 scientific articles referenced in Scopus and the Web of Science were selected in order to analyze how soil properties are considered in scenario-based approaches for ES and ST mapping and assessment.

The objective of this study is to show the results of this  review which involved multiple researchers at the European level in order to highlight how soils are accounted for in ES and ST assessment and mapping exercises through scenario-based approaches. More particularly, the aims of the review are to: i) understand what main drivers are used in scenarization approaches (e.g. land use changes, climate change) and how the scenarios are developed; ii) what are the main soil properties and the associated metrics used to assess and map soil ES and ST, and; iii) what methodological approaches are currently chosen to assess ES and ST changes across time and space.

The outcomes of such an analysis would help highlighting the state of the art of soil ES and ST research at the European level and, therefore, establish milestones to guide future trajectories in the field.

This might support and encourage the harmonization of practices at the European level in ES-related studies and in scenarization practices, in order to create operational and homogeneous tools and frameworks to support the development of pertinent strategies and land-planning policies, with a specific focus on agricultural lands.

How to cite: Scammacca, O., Cadero, A., Asins, S., Bondi, G., Borůvka, L., Buttafuoco, G., Calzolari, C., Czuba, M., Foldal, C., Hofbauer, A., Kukk, L., Lumini, E., Medina Roldàn, E., Michel, K., Molina, M. J., O'Sullivan, L., Pindral, S., Putku, E., Kitzler, B., and Walter, C. and the Ottone Scammacca: What is the place for soils in scenario-based ecosystem services approaches ? A systematic review, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-4377,, 2023.

On-site presentation
Kasper Cockx, Joris Pieters, Ellen Van De Vijver, Peter Willems, and Stijn Vanacker

Soil sealing results in an increased flood risk, reduced water infiltration, higher temperatures in urban areas, decreased carbon storage and biodiversity losses. As the Flanders region in Belgium has one of the highest soil sealing rates in Europe, it is especially prone to these effects. Hence, sustainable spatial management is crucial to ensure a healthy living environment and address climate change. The Flemish government therefore wants to promote de-sealing and limit additional sealing. An example of a concrete policy measure is that by 2050 sealed surfaces in open space zoning have to be reduced by 20% compared to 2015, which corresponds with a decrease of 9 000 ha.  
In order to monitor the evolution of sealed surfaces, and thus the effectiveness of sealing-related policy measures, a method was developed for automatically generating annual and spatially detailed soil sealing maps of Flanders. These maps combine “known” sealing from administrative databases (buildings and transport infrastructure) with modelled sealing based on artificial intelligence. Administrative databases do not (adequately) cover parking lots, private driveways and garden terraces, which are a substantial part of the sealed area in Flanders. Hence, a machine learning model was built for deriving this remaining sealing from 25 cm resolution aerial imagery. For this purpose, an assessor manually labeled the sealed parts on a subset of the images. Based on this training set, a convolutional neural network model was used to produce a sealing probability map, which was converted to a binary modelled sealing map. Finally, a continuity correction was applied to ensure a temporally consistent result across the yearly maps.            
According to this method, 1 m resolution soil sealing maps were obtained for 2013 until 2021. These maps show that an additional area of sealed surfaces of approximately 15 000 ha was constructed in Flanders between 2013 and 2020. They also reveal that de-sealing takes place in Flanders every year, but also is always over-compensated by new sealing. As a result, there is a net increase of soil sealing year after year. The annual soil sealing maps also show an upward trend in open space zoning that moves in the opposite direction to the target of decreasing by 9 000 ha.

How to cite: Cockx, K., Pieters, J., Van De Vijver, E., Willems, P., and Vanacker, S.: Monitoring the evolution of sealed surfaces in Flanders (Belgium) with annual high-resolution soil sealing maps, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-9824,, 2023.

On-site presentation
Roberto Barbetti, Giuseppe Corti, Flavio Fontana, and Claudia Fontana

The Council Agricultural Research and Economics, Research Centre for Agriculture and Environments of Florence, (CREA-AA), National Soil Archive (ARCAN) is an important resource for current and future soil research. ARCAN holds 32,612 archived specimens, collected from 13,156 sites across Italy. The ARCAN is also very relevant from a historical and agroecological point of view, collecting soil samples from surface and subsurface horizons, in some cases taken before Chernobyl and almost all after Chernobyl (1986-2021). In particular, 7,000 agricultural samples are representative of all regions of Italy, collected in the same year (1994), with the same standard sampling and analysis protocol. In this work we show up a new database management system (DATA-RAS) to achieve Vis-Nir spectroscopy data and environment radioactivity data on ARCAN soil samples. Combined use of Vis-Nir and gamma ray spectroscopy to predict soil properties offers a task to populate the database. After that it is possible to obtain a digital soil map of artificial or natural radioactivity of Italian soils. The main purpose of this work is show up an Entity Relationship model of DATA-RAS, that represents other than a database a Smart Data Exchange a system to better managing ARCAN and rapidly exchanging information with other national and European partners. The ultimate goal is to use the most advanced information and communication technologies to create an innovative platform that digitally manages open data with 3D methods and augmented and virtual reality techniques (AR and VR). The DATA-RAS platform will be integrated with scientific information systems and a natural language interface for knowledge communication.

How to cite: Barbetti, R., Corti, G., Fontana, F., and Fontana, C.: Data-RAS A National Digital Soil Radioactivity Map, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-15094,, 2023.

On-site presentation
Clémentine Chirol, Delphine Derrien, Laurent Saint-André, and Geoffroy Séré

As highlighted by recent regulations in Europe and worldwide, the multifunctionality of soils and their capacity to deliver services to societies are of increasing importance to land planners and decision makers. Soils provide multiple ecosystem services (ES) including food production, biomass-energy and contribution to climate change regulation through carbon storage. These services need to be estimated and visualised at relevant scales in order to improve their consideration in land planning decisions.

This project aims to map interdependent bundles of soil ecosystem services at a regional scale so that the effect of land planning decisions on ES delivery can be apprehended by stakeholders. The study site is a 320 km2 rural region in Meuse/Haute Marne, France, composed of 56% cropland, 30% forest and 14% grassland. The pedological properties are provided by 85 soil profiles, grouped into 8 dominant soil types, and a 1/50,000 pedological map. Soil typology is dominated by Calcaric cambisols in the agricultural valleys, but features also deep silty and acidic soils in the forested plateaus, shallow rocky calcaric soils on the hillslopes, and deep clay-rich hydromorphic soils in the alluvial valleys.

Using an expert-based decision support model (Destisol1), soil functions and ecosystem services were scored for all spatial units defined by soil type, slope category and land cover. Functions are calculated based on the soil bio-physico-chemical properties across the whole depth of the pedons. Scores, ranging from 0 to 3, are based on expert-based rules defining threshold values for all soil indicators. Correction factors are applied to the ecosystem service scores to account for the effect of land cover. Finally, correlated bundles of ES across all spatial units are obtained by principal component analysis.

Our results synthetise the effect of soil type on ecosystem services provision, and display the spatial synergies and tradeoffs through three maps of ES bundles. The first ES bundle map compiles the provisioning services (food production, provision of construction wood, provision of biomass energy), which depend dominantly on land use. The second map shows the hydrological regulating services (water quality, erosion mitigation and flooding mitigation), which depend on slope, land use and soil hydromorphy. The third map shows the climate and biological regulating services (contribution to climate change regulation through carbon storage, local cooling effect, biodiversity), which depend on land use, soil depth, rock fragment content and organic matter content. Going forward, maps of ES bundles could be generated for different land planning scenarios to assess the ensuing losses and gains of ES, and promote a more holistic consideration of soil ES by stakeholders.

Reference: 1. Blanchart, A. et al. Towards an operational methodology to optimize ecosystem services provided by urban soils. Landsc. Urban Plan. 176, 1–9 (2018).

How to cite: Chirol, C., Derrien, D., Saint-André, L., and Séré, G.: Regional assessment of soil type and land occupation influence on ecosystem services, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-8020,, 2023.

Virtual presentation
Alina Premrov, Matthew Saunders, Alison O'Reilly, Mathavan Vickneswaran, Elena Zioga, Dara Stanley, Blanaid White, James C. Carolan, and Jane C. Stout

The HAIR 2014 (HArmonized environmental Indicators for pesticide Risk) modelling tool [1],[2] was used to  estimate the risks of pesticide use in agricultural soils in Irish agricultural  sites. This work  was  undertaken as a part of the PROTECTS research project [3], which is collating the baseline information required to build towards mitigating the impacts of pesticide use in terrestrial ecosystem services in Ireland. We focused on estimating the potential  risks posed by pesticides in a number of agricultural  sites  using specific terrestrial risk-indicators in the HAIR2014 [2] for selected active substances (ASs). on refinements to the  HAIR2014 tool for Irish conditions [4],[5] , and involved adjusting  the tool to include model-inputs at the site-scale for a number of Irish agricultural sites. The sites were sampled and the soils analysed during 2019 and 2021 for  the quantification of  ASs residues, as well as other soil physical-chemical parameters.  Climate data for each site were obtained from the nearest Met Éireann weather station [6]. The information on crop, soil, and ASs application rates obtained from the on-site investigations was fed into HAIR databases. The  previously refined spatial (GEO) database [4], [5] was also adjusted for site-scale modelling. We will present the generated HAIR2014 simulation outputs for selected ASs, such as the acute and chronic terrestrial risk indicators for earthworms (ETRe) [2] for the Irish agricultural sites used in this study. The overarching aim of this work is to generate pesticide risk indicator outputs for Irish agricultural soils that will inform potential site-scale risk assessments and assist the development of recommendations for potential future national soil-monitoring /sampling needs.



Thanks go to Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) for funding the PROTECTS project.




[1] HAIR2014, (last assessed 2022). HArmonized environmental Indicators for pesticide Risk. URLs:;

[2] Kruijne, R., et al.  (2011). HAIR2014 Software Manual (2014);  Hair 2010 Documentation Alterra Wageningen UR.

[3] PROTECTS project, (2018). Protecting terrestrial ecosystems through sustainable pesticide use URL:

[4] Premrov, A., Saunders, M., Zimmermann, J., Stout, J., (2021). Insights into preliminary procedures for estimation of soil pesticide risks in Irish grasslands using HAIR2014 tool, IGRM2021, Limerick, Ireland. URL:

[5] Premrov, A., Saunders, M., et al, and Stout, J.(2022) Insights into using HAIR2014 tool for estimating soil pesticide risks in Irish grasslands for selected herbicide active substances , EGU General Assembly 2022, EGU22-2989, URL:, 2022.

[6] Met Éireann (latest assessed 2023) Historical Data URLs:; CC-BY-4.0; Copyright Met Éireann).

How to cite: Premrov, A., Saunders, M., O'Reilly, A., Vickneswaran, M., Zioga, E., Stanley, D., White, B., Carolan, J. C., and Stout, J. C.: Insights into using the HAIR2014 tool to estimate soil pesticide risk in agricultural soils in Ireland, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-7570,, 2023.

On-site presentation
Eduardo Medina Roldán, Romina Lorenzetti, Fabrizio Ungaro, and Costanza Calzolari

Ecosystem services (ESs) are currently seen as a useful support tool in the context on land management and environmental policies. Thus, great efforts are in progress for exploiting their potential. One of such ESs-based tools is when two or more ESs are taken into account at the same time. Here we analysed at a regional scale, soil-based ecosystem services (SESs), and their bundles (relationships consistent in space and time among two or more ESs taken into account ), showing their usefulness for decision makers. We used SESs derived from specific-calibrated data (produced through soil digital mapping) on soil properties from the plain area of Emilia Romagna in Italy, and applied spatially-explicit tools to investigate SESs relationships (i.e., synergistic or antagonistic/trade-offs).


ESs relationships in the bundles concept are usually understood as constant at a global spatial basis. For instance, a bivariate ESs relationship such as a trade-off between soil carbon and crop production are usually assumed to remain constant all over the extension of a particular area of study. However, our approach shows that, at the local level, there can be deviations from the global relationships among SESs. In such local deviations the sign of the SESs relationship can can even change (e.g., a global SESs trade-off can show local synergies). At our case such deviation from a global trade-off to local scale synergy was observed for such SESs as carbon stock (CST) and water infiltration capacity (WAR). The deviation in the CST-WAR pair relationship was likely caused by how particular soil properties determine these SESs, since the local deviations in this SESs pair were associated to pedo-units at the landscape scale with particular properties. Thus, management practices that try to maximise such SESs with a single approach at a global level (study area) are likely to succeed in some, but not all of such pedo-units. Overall, our approach highlights how SESs can be useful in guiding land management decisions, and how inherent soil properties play a role in determining the relationships among SESs.

How to cite: Medina Roldán, E., Lorenzetti, R., Ungaro, F., and Calzolari, C.: Spatial relationships among soil-based ecosystem services can vary at the regional and local level, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-15010,, 2023.

On-site presentation
Sabina Asins, Mª José Molina, and Emilio Doñate

Spain, with 16,902,421 hectares under cultivation, ranks fourth in agricultural production in Europe and tenth worldwide. The weight of the agricultural sector represents 9.2% of the total GDP of the Spanish economy, and it is the sixth economy that contributes the most employment to the European agri-food sector. Knowing the risks associated with the use of agricultural soils, as well as the services that these soils provide to the ecosystem, is of great importance to address problems associated with their management. In the context of the SERENA project (Soil ecosystem services and soil threats modelling and mapping), funded by the European Joint Program on Soil (EJP-Soil), we present, on the one hand, functional indicators expressed in the form of maps of the bundles that are generated between individual soil threats:

- Agricultural Soils / Soil Compaction

- Agricultural Soils / Soil Erosion Rates

- Agricultural Soils / Soil Drought.

Or combined soil threats:

- Agricultural Soil Compaction / Agricultural Soil Erosion Rates

As well as the bundles among the services that agricultural soils provide to the ecosystem, such as:

- Primary production/ Organic carbon content in the soil

- Agricultural Soils / Water retention capacity

- Agricultural Soils / Important areas for the conservation of birds and biodiversity.

These indicators can be useful in the formulation of public policies, in decision-making by end-users, and in the dissemination and transfer of knowledge by social media.

How to cite: Asins, S., Molina, M. J., and Doñate, E.: Agricultural Soils in Spain: mapping the problems that threaten them, and the ecosystem services they provide., EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-6016,, 2023.

Coffee break
Chairpersons: Stefano Mocali, Christian Walter, Romina Lorenzetti
Virtual presentation
Mark Grimm, Magdalena Sut-Lohmann, Thomas Raab, and Martina Heinrich

Beginning in 2020 the research of the MultiFruit cluster seeks to optimize food production and the provision of ecosystem services in multifunctional landscapes. Joining agricultural production with the provision of ecosystem services and the preservation of biological diversity, the outcomes of this project aim to provide comprehensive findings to farmers, and the agricultural community as a whole, that are also applicable in the face of climate change. Active apple orchards located in greater Brandenburg, Germany of both organic and conventional management practices have been selected as the sites of research. The present state of organic apple orchards in Germany can best be described as organic “conventionalization”; high yielding orchards with little to no plant diversity, with the major differences being the substitution of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides with organic alternatives certified by the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit). The project implements an interdisciplinary approach, with researchers of ecology, economics, soil and microbial sciences. The ecological subproject is investigating how local management measures and the surrounding landscapes affect natural pest control by beneficial insects. The soil group are investigating the toxicological and soil health impacts of conventional and organic practices through analysis of both plant and soil material collected from the orchards. Microbial studies seek to provide information on the microorganisms that promote the growth, health, and performance of fruit trees. The economic studies aim to assess the costs and benefits of management measures and resulting pest control services for fruit growers and society as a whole. The overall expected outcome of this cluster is to maximize ecosystem services provided by the orchards while optimizing yield and maintaining soil and orchard health.  Here we show the preliminary results of the 2021 field campaign related to the soil group. The processed plant and soil material was analyzed at our laboratory and total elemental concentration of all constituents was determined using Microwave assisted MP-AES for select metals and cations (Zn, Cu, Fe, Al, Mg, Ca, K). These results, in conjunction with measured soil properties (pH, EC, Scheibler carbonate measurement, Total N, Total C) aid in the effort to determine the effects of the various management practices on the soil health and the mobility and translocation of metals and cations within the plant tissues.

How to cite: Grimm, M., Sut-Lohmann, M., Raab, T., and Heinrich, M.: Integrated analysis of Multifunctional Fruit production landscapes to promote ecosystem services and sustainable land-use under climate change (MultiFruit): Approaches and first results of soil sampling campaign, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-12714,, 2023.

On-site presentation
Frederik Bøe, Jannes Stolte, Loes van Schaik, and Coen Ritsema

Soil health is defined as the capacity of a soil to function as vital living ecosystem. No-tillage is a non-inversion practice that has been highlighted as a practice for improving soil health, and thereby improving soil ecosystem delivery. However, evidence on soil health and farming practices that improve soil health is limited in Norway. We present results on effects of long-term farming practices on soil health in Southeast (SE) Norway on similar soil and topographic characteristics. Physical, chemical, and biological soil indicators were measured on two neighbouring farms, one with no-till and cover crops (NT+CC) and one with conventional harrowing and ploughing (CP), on loam soil in SE Norway. Soil samples were collected to compare soil health indicator between farming practices. We established two systematic sampling grids (~ 0.4 ha) with grid intersection points every 15 m x 15 m to produce a total of 33 sampling points and 17 and 20 cells in the CP and NT+CC field, respectively. We used a combined approach of transect-, point- and cell sampling, depending on the spatial variations of the soil indicators. Soil health indicators included bulk density, cohesion, aggregate stability, saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat), total organic carbon, total nitrogen, pH, permanganate-oxidizable carbon and earthworm count. Preliminary results indicate significantly different (p<0.001) earthworm count in the NT+CC (24.7±6.4) compared to CP (6.0±3.2). Moreover, higher mean Ksat was measured in NT+CC (83.5±29.5 cm/day) compared to CP (46.0±40.0 cm/day). Here we discuss further the effects of no-till and cover crops on soil health and the selection of soil indicators to evaluate soil health.

How to cite: Bøe, F., Stolte, J., van Schaik, L., and Ritsema, C.: Soil health in Norway: On-farm assessments of soil health with no-till and conventional farming practices, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-12161,, 2023.

On-site presentation
Tad Trimarco, Erik Wardle, Emmanuel Deleon, Ansley Brown, Cassidy Buchanan, and James Ippolito

Farmers and land managers are tasked with maintaining high productivity, planning for long-term intensification, and increasingly, making considerations for the impact of their management on ecosystem services. In particular, there has been increasing attention on the role that management practices have on soil health and water quality. Despite a wealth of literature connecting soil health and water quality theoretically or mechanistically, there is little empirical research connecting soil health to land management practices designed to improve water quality. Moreover, those projects that do connect soil health to water quality often do so on farms that meet their irrigation needs through rainfall inputs, potentially missing the impact that reliance on irrigation has on both soil health and runoff water quality.

A number of Best Management Practices (BMPs) have been developed to mitigate the impact of agricultural runoff to receiving water bodies, with conservation or reduced tillage  proposed as a way to reduce the effluent loading of both nutrients and sediment. Additionally, reducing tillage intensity and frequency has been shown to improve soil health along a number of metrics and to sequester carbon for climate change mitigation. However, these concepts have rarely been empirically connected, and even less so in semi-arid environments characterized by high temperatures, low precipitation, and significant inputs. In-depth studies of multiple aspects of environmental health on conservation tillage plots, particularly those performed at farm-scale, can provide insights to inform farmer decision-making.

We examined soil health and water quality metrics on a long-term research conservation vs. conventional tillage comparison site using the Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF) and Edge-of-Field Monitoring (EoF) of water quality to elucidate the impact of reduced tillage on furrow-irrigated corn. The SMAF program aims to assign scores ranging from 0.0-1.0 to indicate the relative “healthiness” of a soil with a series of ten biological, chemical, physical, and nutritional measurements. Meanwhile, water quality is evaluated through EoF monitoring of a handful of key water quality analytes in irrigation runoff that pose an environmental problem in the region, and various approaches are used to connect effluent water quality to soil health measurements. These relationships, along with measurements of soil carbon fractionation, crop yield, and farm profitability, are used to evaluate conservation tillage in furrow-irrigated agriculture for a broad set of ecosystem services. Our analysis suggests that conservation tillage provides a number of valuable ecosystem services and general benefits over conventional tillage, including improvements to physical and biological soil health indicators, reduced runoff of nutrients and sediment, reduced carbon intensity of production, and increased farm profitability. However, conservation tillage in furrow-irrigated agriculture is not without its challenges, namely control and management of irrigation water. Overall results are collectively presented to provide a broader comparison of conservation and conventional tillage through an interdisciplinary lens at farm scale and with attention paid to the ways in which farmers make decisions regarding land management.

How to cite: Trimarco, T., Wardle, E., Deleon, E., Brown, A., Buchanan, C., and Ippolito, J.: Exploring the soil health-water quality-ecosystems services nexus of long-term conservation tillage plots under intense irrigation, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-2137,, 2023.

On-site presentation
Emily Overturf, Felix Seidel, Florian Schneider, and Axel Don

Soil quality scoring is a useful tool in land management as it can help determine the most suitable land use and is used to estimate the value of land for agricultural or forestry production. In agriculture, soil scoring can also help to inform management practices such as fertilizer application and irrigation rates, or even determine taxation levels as is the case in Germany. Various indicator-based soil scoring systems exist, and are often claimed to be linked to crop yield potential as an important ecosystem service.  In Germany, a system more than 100 years old called the Bodenschätzung is still used today and provides the most detailed soil information system for agricultural land across Germany. Calculating the Bodenzahl (soil score) with this method requires expert knowledge, is only applicable to German soils and does not consider climate variables such as mean annual temperature and precipitation. The Müncheberg Soil Quality Rating (MSQR) is an emerging method developed in Germany in 2007 which attempts to make yield potential scoring simpler, more widely applicable and more accurate. This system claims to be usable without extensive training and was suggested to be globally applicable by some previous studies. It also considers climate variables such as drought risk and soil temperature regime that may allow for more accurate yield predictions than soil-only methods like the Bodenzahl. However, there is little evaluation on the relation between soil quality indicators and yield. Therefore, we tested the implementation of the MSQR system and calculated MSQR scores for 3104 sampling points from the first German Agricultural Soil Inventory following the MSQR guide. In addition, we tested the performance of the Bodenschätzung with the Bodenzahl for the sampling points and related these soil quality indicators with 10 years of point specific yield data from our data set.  Preliminary findings suggest that the MSQR may determine yield potential and yield stability better than the Bodenschätzung, likely due to the fact that climate variables are considered. However, MSQR parameters may need to be adjusted locally for the method to accurately predict yields in different regions, which makes a global application of the method more complex. In general, soil indicators seem to predict only part of agricultural yield at national scale with management practices and climate still playing important roles.

How to cite: Overturf, E., Seidel, F., Schneider, F., and Don, A.: Are soil quality indicators good predictors for agricultural yield?, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-11749,, 2023.

On-site presentation
Marjoleine Hanegraaf, Janjo de Haan, Wieke Vervuurt, Sabine Schnabel, Erik Van den Elsen, and Saskia Visser

Since soil health is considered important for both agriculture production and climate change, there is growing consensus on the selection of relevant soil indicators. However, reference and/or target values to evaluate the indicators are poorly defined. We designed a system for a uniform and integral evaluation of soil quality. The system (named BLN) supports the Dutch aims for sustainable management of agricultural soils by 2030 and annual sequestration of 0.5 x 106 kg carbon. BLN consists of a set of soil health indicators and corresponding reference values for assessing ecosystem services, e.g. carbon sequestration, bulk density, and microbial biomass. Pre-selected features of BLN are: i) give a reliable representation of integral soil quality, ii) able to detect changes in soil quality in time and space, iii) applicable for national and/or regional regulatory monitoring purposes as well as field and/or farm management. Indicators and analytical methods were selected on the basis of accuracy, reliability, rapidity, and cost-effectiveness. Initial reference and/or target values were taken from a national survey and from literature. The system distinguishes reference and target values ​​for four different soil type / land use combinations. BLN Version 1.1 comprises 18 indicators for soil organic matter, chemical, physical and/or biological aspects of soil health, many of which are from routine soil analysis. To test its use, BLN was applied within a network of arable farms covering the major arable regions in The Netherlands. Soil samples were taken in autumn 2019, 2021 and 2022 and analysed for BLN and other soil parameters e.g. disease suppressiveness. Also, details of annual soil and farm management since 2010 were registered, as well as regional climate statistics. Data-analyses include change over time for individual indicators, PCA-analysis with all measured indicators, and, for soil carbon, modelling with the ROTHC-model. Results will be discussed viz. a multi-criteria approach for further development of the BLN system, including possible improvement of reference / target values as well as extension of the system with other soil type / land use combinations.

How to cite: Hanegraaf, M., de Haan, J., Vervuurt, W., Schnabel, S., Van den Elsen, E., and Visser, S.: Evaluation of soil indicators for agriculture in The Netherlands, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-12256,, 2023.

On-site presentation
Gerard Ros, Kees van den Dool, and Wim De Vries

Soil organic matter (SOM) content is key for a healthy and high-quality agricultural soil and drives soil processes controlling both crop yield and environmental losses. An increase in soil organic matter or carbon (SOC) levels is seen, both by many conventional farmers and by policy makers, as a desirable objective. Better plant nutrition due to retention of nutrients (N, P, S, micronutrients), ease of cultivation, penetration and seedbed preparation, greater aggregate stability, reduced bulk density, improved water holding capacity and enhanced porosity have all been associated with increased amounts of SOC. A critical threshold for SOC below which the soil becomes less fertile and sustainable is however missing. Consideration of such critical levels involves assessment of the quantitative evidence, i.e. the nature of SOM and the properties it confers on soils, whether justifiable limits can be set for a range of soil types, climatic conditions, or land management/cropping practices and, finally, whether there are any dis-benefits from an increase in SOM levels in soils. Using quantitative relationships derived from literature we assessed the contribution of SOC to the aforementioned soil functions and properties, and linked this contribution to critical targets for the soil functions evaluated. Using this we derived an optimum SOC range for agricultural soils and we illustrate the potential benefits of changes in SOC for most common agricultural systems across Europe. 

How to cite: Ros, G., van den Dool, K., and De Vries, W.: Define optimum carbon levels in soils in view of multiple soil functions, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-14776,, 2023.

Virtual presentation
Madhur Atreya, John-Baptist Kauzya, Stacie DeSousa, Evan Williams, Austin Hayes, Karan Dikshit, Jenna Nielson, Abigail Palmgren, Sara Khorchidian, Shangshi Liu, Anupama Gopalakrishnan, Eloise Bihar, Carson Bruns, Richard Bardgett, John Quinton, Jessica Davies, Jason Neff, and Gregory Whiting

The in situ sensing of soil health through the monitoring of microbial and enzymatic activity has remained a challenge, and is typically limited to laboratory techniques that are time and labor intensive. In addition, results from assessments done offsite do not always reflect real time bio-chemical-physical processes occurring in soil. Here, we present a novel printed decomposition sensor comprising a poly(hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) and carbon composite material.1 As the PHBV binder biodegrades in soil, the resistivity of the composite increases, which can be easily read with low-cost, wireless readout equipment. A correlation can be drawn between sensor response and general microbial activity in both soil and compost tea in as little as 14 days. Since PHBV is degraded by numerous microbes in the soil, it can be considered a “broad spectrum” decomposition sensor. However, this sensor is also a proof of concept that can possibly be modified to detect more specific soil decomposition activity, such as denitrification. We propose that selectivity can be achieved by mapping the enzyme(s) or microbe(s) of interest to a list of candidate binder materials that they reliably degrade. This design methodology considers the physical and chemical properties of these materials before and after degradation in soil and possible effects by interference enzymes and microbes.

1. Atreya, M.; Desousa, S.; Kauzya, J.; Williams, E.; Hayes, A.; Dikshit, K.; Nielson, J.; Palmgren, A.; Khorchidian, S.; Liu, S.; Gopalakrishnan, A.; Bihar, E.; Bruns, C. J.; Bardgett, R.; Quinton, J. N.; Davies, J.; Neff, J. C.; Whiting, G. L. A Transient Printed Soil Decomposition Sensor Based on a Biopolymer Composite Conductor. Adv. Sci. 2022, 2205785, 1–10.


How to cite: Atreya, M., Kauzya, J.-B., DeSousa, S., Williams, E., Hayes, A., Dikshit, K., Nielson, J., Palmgren, A., Khorchidian, S., Liu, S., Gopalakrishnan, A., Bihar, E., Bruns, C., Bardgett, R., Quinton, J., Davies, J., Neff, J., and Whiting, G.: Novel Printed Soil Decomposition Sensors Based on Biodegradation, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-8573,, 2023.

On-site presentation
Chiara Ferré, Gaia Mascetti, Sara Agaba, Roberto Fuccella, Rodolfo Gentili, and Roberto Comolli

Mountain soils provide a variety of ecosystem services (ES) that are increasingly threatened by anthropogenic impacts and climate change.

We present here the results of a study on the pedodiversity, biodiversity, and soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration of alpine soils in a pasture of the central Alps, that took into account the effect of morphology and vegetation. The study area was the Andossi plateau (350 ha) in Valchiavenna (Lombardy Region), between 1800 and 2000 m elevation.

As part of the PascolAndo project, whose goal was to promote sustainable pasture management, at 160 georeferenced points we characterized soils (down to bedrock or a maximum of 50 cm) and carried out the floristic survey to define the vegetation type; soil samples were collected by horizons and analyzed for the main soil properties.

The main soil types were Leptosols, Regosols, Cambisols, Umbrisols, Podzols, Gleysols and Histosols, strongly related to geomorphology and vegetation type (peat bogs, earth hummocks, and poor, calcareous, shrub and rich pastures).

Histosols and Gleysols of peatland and wet areas showed the highest SOC stock with an average of 31.8±2.6 kg m-2 and 23.3±2.7 kg m-2 respectively, followed by Umbrisols, distributed all over (17.2±6.2 kg m-2), and Podzols (16.6±4.6 kg m-2), typical of poor pastures and shrub areas. The most prevalent soils on the plateau were Cambisols (average SOC stock of 13.6±2.7 kg m-2): Eutric Cambisols were primarily in rich pasture and Dystric Cambisols in poor pasture. Among poorly developed soils, Regosols stored on average 10.8±4.2 kg m-2, while Leptosols, widespread on steep slopes in calcareous pastures and shrub areas, showed the lowest SOC stock (9.6±4.9 kg m-2).

Soil types, vegetation types, and SOC were first modeled using geomorphometric variables (27 variables extracted from a 4-m resolution DTM) and vegetation indices (NDVI, NDWI, NDRE, for 3 dates of the growing season, extracted from Sentinel 2 images) and then spatially estimated, allowing quantification of the pedodiversity, biodiversity, and SOC sequestration in the study area.

The study showed that the plateau has a high level of biodiversity and pedodiversity, with OC-rich soils that are important for regulating the global climate. There was evidence that grazing and livestock loading affected soil ES by acting on biodiversity, soil fertility, and erosion.

How to cite: Ferré, C., Mascetti, G., Agaba, S., Fuccella, R., Gentili, R., and Comolli, R.: Pedodiversity, biodiversity, and SOC storage in an alpine pasture, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-16690,, 2023.

On-site presentation
Camille Imbert, Lucia Santorufo, Carole Ortega, Claudy Jolivet, Apolline Auclerc, Nolwenn Bougon, Yvan Capowiez, Bruno Chauvel, Nathalie Cheviron, Daniel Cluzeau, Jérôme Cortet, Mickael Hedde, Antoine Lévêque, Florence Maunoury-Danger, Christian Mougin, Laurent Palka, Guénola Pérès, Lionel Ranjard, Cécile Villenave, and Antonio Bispo

One quarter of the living beings are located beneath our feet but we know very little of them (FAO, 2020). This statement will perhaps quickly change because the soils are now on the political agenda. For France, soil is mentioned in the Green Pact at European level (Montanarella, 2020) and in the country government's Biodiversity Plan. The law on soil health is also planned for 2023 (Köninger et al., 2022). However, as its biological component remains poorly understood, the indicators used by stakeholders give only a biased view of soil quality (Lehmann et al., 2020). It is therefore urgent to catch up on the knowledge of soil biodiversity in order to establish benchmarks for bioindicators, based on standardised data.

In parallel, the French Biodiversity Office working on the linkages between all French terrestrial biodiversity monitorings, pointed out the absence of soil biodiversity monitoring in France.

Rather than creating de novo a soil biodiversity monitoring, it was preferred to add biodiversity surveys to the already existing French Soil Quality Monitoring Network (RMQS), hereafter called the RMQS-Biodiversity. The RMQS covers a big part of the French territory (the continental part as the over seas) since 2000. Every year, 180 study sites are sampled. Thus, all the sites are sampled in 10-12 years (Jolivet et al., 2018). The RMQS provides data about all physical and chemical aspects of soils. Regarding the soil biological component, microorganisms and enzymatic activities are also surveyed. By the past, soil fauna was studied on around 100 sites but the experience was not maintained (Imbert et al., 2021). Moreover, a major strength of the RMQS is the network of involved people included the 12 field teams, the coordination team, the funders and data users (researchers and stakeholders).

To implement the biological measurements, we gathered a group of experts on soil biodiversity. As meetings go by, five protocols were defined to assess the most exhaustively possible the soil biodiversity taxa and three functions (soil macroporosity, enzymatic activities and organic matter degradation).  

Then, the protocols were tested in real conditions on 30 RMQS study sites with the field teams. The duration of each protocol was quoted to clearly assess the costs.

We concluded that the biodiversity sampling of 180 RMQS study sites per year, would cost around 1 000 000 euros. We propose five scenarios giving compromises between financial costs and data quality.

If the RMQS-Biodiversity is maintained, it would make possible: 1) to advance on the still too partial knowledge of soil biodiversity and its interactions with agricultural practices and 2) based on the knowledge acquired, to develop bioindicators and their benchmarks, in order to accurately assess soil quality, in the context of Soil Health (Lehmann et al., 2020).  A complete soil monitoring, including its three components (physical, chemical and now biological), would thus provide a relevant tool to policy- makers to reach reconciling human activities and soil integrity.

How to cite: Imbert, C., Santorufo, L., Ortega, C., Jolivet, C., Auclerc, A., Bougon, N., Capowiez, Y., Chauvel, B., Cheviron, N., Cluzeau, D., Cortet, J., Hedde, M., Lévêque, A., Maunoury-Danger, F., Mougin, C., Palka, L., Pérès, G., Ranjard, L., Villenave, C., and Bispo, A.: Handbook to establish a large-scale soil biodiversity monitoring: the French experience of the RMQS-Biodiversity, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-16392,, 2023.


Posters on site: Fri, 28 Apr, 08:30–10:15 | Hall X3

Örjan Berglund, Kerstin Berglund, and Anna Bjuréus

Soil structure and soil health depend on many physical, chemical and biological factors that interact in a complex way and can be hard and expensive to measure. In order to develop a tool to assess soil health and increase awareness among farmers, students and advisors of the importance of good soil health, a soil app, 'How healthy is my soil?' was developed. The EU Rural Development Programme funded the work.

The mobile app is based on earlier research where a Field Test was developed. This Field Test has now been digitized and developed further into the free-of-charge mobile app 'How healthy is my soil?' and is available in Swedish and English for iPhone and Android phones.

The app contains three major parts: 1. General questions about the field, 2. Soil health tests, and 3. A water infiltration test. All tests are easy to perform, and the equipment needed is generally found on a farm. You are step-by-step guided through the tests and asked questions that normally have three answers to choose from. Many pictures, films, and extra information help you interpret what you see. The results are presented and summarized at the end of each test. You can create a PDF with the results to be sent by e-mail to any address of your choice. The GPS and map function in the app makes it easy to find your way back to the same place later to follow up on soil improvement measures taken. More tests will be included in the app in the future.

To get a first picture of how your soil generally works, choose a location representative of the field. To learn more about your soil, you can perform the test at more locations in the field, one that is better than your representative site and possibly a worse place. Then you can compare the actual soil health in the field to how it can appear at its best and worst.

When you have done the tests for a field, you can think about possible mitigation measures based on the overall impression of the results. In the app, you get tips on various soil conservation measures to improve your soil and what you should avoid and minimize to achieve good soil health. You can make an action list for each field.

All parts of the app can be performed separately, but together they give an even better picture of the soil health. By doing the tests regularly, preferably together with other farmers and advisors, it is possible to assess and monitor soil health. From this knowledge, it is possible to develop a long-term strategy to improve the soil of your fields.

How to cite: Berglund, Ö., Berglund, K., and Bjuréus, A.: 'How healthy is my soil?' – A soil care app, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-3634,, 2023.

Jiamin Ma and Pu Shi

Intensified soil use and management practices have led to serious soil degradation in the world’s croplands, compromising their ability to provide food and ecosystem services. Under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals framework, “change in soil C stock” has been adopted as a key indicator to assess the degree and extent of cropland degradation. Among the underlying drivers that can cause soil C losses, reduced inputs of organic substrates, tillage-induced soil structural destabilization and erosion-associated lateral matter transfer are regarded as key processes that not only diminish the bulk C content, but also alter the soil C composition of functionally distinct fractions.

In this study, we attempt to analyze the relationship between soil degradation and soil C dynamics from a "beyond bulk” perspective. We selected two study sites, one in Northeast China and one in the Belgian Loam Belt, that share similar bulk soil C content, soil texture and parent materials, but contrasting degrees of soil degradation at regional scale. We will present results on (i) the response of soil aggregate stability, as a measure of soil degradation, to varying bulk C content, as well as to particulate and mineral-associated organic C fractions; (ii) how varied organic inputs and soil erosion intensity could affect the fraction of soil particulate organic carbon that has important control over the level of aggregate stability.

How to cite: Ma, J. and Shi, P.: Assessing soil degradation status in croplands: insights from the variations in soil particulate organic carbon fraction, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-4063,, 2023.

Fabio Terribile, Angelo Basile, and Antonello Bonfante

Looking to research databases (e.g. WoS), it is self-evident that (i) in the last 5 years there is an exponential increase of papers having a Soil Health (SH) focus (« soil health » in the title), (ii) most of these papers are produced after USA and Asian countries while Europe is well behind (less than 1/3 of USA production), (iii) most of this scientific production is sustained by public authorities (e.g. USDA in USA).

It is also well known that Soil health has become a key topic for policy due to the contribution of the EU Soil Mission. Thanks to this effort, in EU we have an important direction towards its definition since Soil Health needs to deliver a specific list of ecosystem services (after             the Soil Thematic Strategy policy instrument).

Then how to measure soil health? If we look the scientific work on SH, there are plenty of indicators based on soil parameters, soil properties and soil functions, but almost no or minimal ecosystem services evaluations.

The most widespread approaches in scientific literature is to evaluate SH are based on empirical approaches. But if SH has to evaluate ecosystem services and if SH requires approaches easy to be transferable to new areas then it is of paramount importance to stress the need and importance of mechanistic models versus empiric models. In fact decades of research have proved that empirical approaches require much larger calibration dataset and they have also much lower transferability as compared to mechanistic models. Consequently, not all models are the same especially in view of their implementation in operational Decision Support Systems.

This approach it will enable adaptation to every specific region and their related ecosystem services.

What is now required from the research community are: (i) Operational procedures to assess multiscale ecosystem services and the role of soils in contributing to such services and (ii) effective way to communicate results to end-users and stakeholders.


How to cite: Terribile, F., Basile, A., and Bonfante, A.: An outlook on the state of soil health research, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-6939,, 2023.

Daniela Smiraglia, Veronica Fioramonti, Anna Luise, Nicola Riitano, and Francesca Assennato

SERENA Project aims to improve the effectiveness of European policies on the environment, and in particular on soil, through the analysis of soil-based ecosystem services and soil threats in some of European agricultural landscapes. The need for sustainable and effective agro-management methods, practices and techniques to contribute to the improvement of soil quality and to mitigate the effects of global change scenarios foresee has been widely recognized. In addition to the identification and evaluation of indicators for soil-based ecosystem services and soil threats, the project also foresees to define relevant scenarios based on the best available scientific knowledge, useful for evaluating the dynamics of a variety of land degradation impacts on ecosystem services. A specific study is devoted to the available knowledge on expected projections that main drivers, as climate change, demographic trends, changes in land use/land cover and land management could produce in agricultural soils. The first outcomes of the scenario analysis, and the resulting implications on soil health and on ecosystem services, will be then discussed with end-users to co-construct relevant scenarios to support planning and decision-making processes. This approach considers that the collaboration with end-users plays a key role to address the evaluation of impacts of soil related policies striving to achieve national and global environmental targets, including Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals, involving broadly decision-makers and stakeholders, helping their effectiveness.

How to cite: Smiraglia, D., Fioramonti, V., Luise, A., Riitano, N., and Assennato, F.: SERENA Project: to define relevant change scenarios for evaluating the impact on soil-based ecosystem services in European agricultural landscapes, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-9534,, 2023.

Sung Chul Kim, Jin Wook Kim, Young Kyu Hong, Jung Hwan Yoon, Hyuck Soo Kim, Hee Jung Kim, and Jae E. Yang

Quantitative and qualitative estimation of soil ecosystem has been studied for understanding importance of soil ecosystem. However, estimation of soil ecosystem is a complex process and requires numerous soil properties. The main objectives of this research was i) to select minimum data set of soil properties, ii) to develop quantitative estimation protocol for estimating soil ecosystem and iii) apply the developed protocol for quantification of soil ecosystem in water supply conservation area in Korea. In order to select minimum data set of soil indicators, national soil database provided by Rural Developed Administration (RDA) was used as a raw data set and principal component analysis was used for choosing the minimum data set. Total of 11 soil properties including 4 physical properties (bulk density, sand and clay contents, available water capacity), 5 chemical properties (pH, electric conductivity, soil organic matter, available phosphorus, cation exchange capacity), and 2 biological properties (soil respiration, soil enzyme concentration) were selected for soil indicators. Three representative models (more is better, optimum, and less is better) were obtained for each soil indicators and scaled from 0 to 1 for quantification. Developed quantification protocol was applied in 250 locations from water supply conservation area. The average score for provisioning, regulating, and supplying ecosystem service was 0.50, 0.68, and 0.82 respectively. Based on quantitative estimation of soil ecosystem service in Korea, provisioning ecosystem service including biomass production and water storage needs to be improved.

How to cite: Kim, S. C., Kim, J. W., Hong, Y. K., Yoon, J. H., Kim, H. S., Kim, H. J., and Yang, J. E.: Protocol Development for Quantitative Estimation of Soil Ecosystem Services, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-10508,, 2023.

Isabelle Cousin, David Montagne, Rodrigo Anton-Sobejano, Ottone Scammacca, Janjo De Haan, and Erik van den Elsen

The EU Soil Strategy aims at providing EU soils in a healthy state by 2050, with the intermediate objective of 70% of healthy soils by 2030.  This ambitious objective urges both the monitoring of Soil Quality and Health over the whole of Europe, and the development of sustainable management practices to restore degraded soils.  The links between some soil concepts remain unclear and limit the evaluation of management practices to improve Soil Health and Quality. In the framework of the EJP SOIL programme, the SERENA project developed a framework to interconnect a set of key concepts like Soil Quality, Soil Health and Soil Ecosystem Services, and Soil Threats. Some definitions have first been browsed from the literature, and adaptations/syntheses have been proposed and ranked by the SERENA project participants in order to arrive at a set of definitions supported by scientist from participating EU countries. A conceptual framework has then been proposed, initially based on the framework proposed by the EJP SOIL project SIREN. It is mainly based on a 2 interlinked boxes representation, combining the ecosystem and the socio-economic system. Ecosystem Services (ES) are considered both as a supply, from the ecosystem, or as a use, by the socio-economic system, which is the part of the ES supply directly or indirectly used or experienced by the society (farmers, institutions, whole population). The Natural Soil Capital, consisting mainly as the below-ground processes and functions, determines the ES supply by the whole ecosystem under specific conditions and type of use, together with the aboveground processes and functions associated to the other components of the ecosystem. Society is also responsible for the pressures on the whole system: it can either increase threats on soils (through the increase of cultivated land areas or intensification of agricultural practices, for example), or improve Soil Quality, Soil Natural Capital, and ES supply (thanks to agricultural practices increasing soil carbon stocks, for example). The main originalities of the SERENA frameworks are: i) to consider both Soil Quality and Soil Threats at the interface between the ecosystem and the socio-economic system, ii) to conceptualise a Soil Health threshold as a specific level of Soil Quality to define either healthy or unhealthy soils. The proposed conceptual framework of the SERENA project is open to discussion in the whole Soil Science community. A common and shared framework as such would enable a homogeneous and more structured research about soil ecosystem services and a better communicability to policy-makers and the general public.

How to cite: Cousin, I., Montagne, D., Anton-Sobejano, R., Scammacca, O., De Haan, J., and van den Elsen, E.: A conceptual framework to link some soil concepts: Soil Quality, Soil Health, Soil-based Ecosystem Services, Soil threats. A proposition from the EJP SOIL – SERENA project, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-13094,, 2023.

Rodrigo Antón, Iñigo Virto, João Augusto Coblinski, and Isabelle Cousin

Soils play a crucial role in the sustainable delivery of a wide range of ecosystem services (ES), linking soil functions of ecosystems to human well-being and socio-economic activities. When such linkages are well recognized, in a medium to long-term trajectories in the delivery of soil-based ecosystem services (SES) in relation to climate and land use or soil management are poorly known, particularly when it is not question of individual services but to bundles of services and their relationships. The identification and assessment of bundles of ES, and the definition of reference thresholds represents a key point in the assessment of soil multifunctionality and in the monitoring of soil health.

The region of Navarre (10,391 km2) is characterized by a high climatic variability, with a rainfall gradient ranging from >2500 mm in the north to <350 mm in the southeast, as the most significant natural division in the territory. This translates into a variability in terms of agricultural use, which represents 39% of the total area with 90.7% cropland and 9.3% grassland, and where more than 30% is irrigated. This agricultural use was characterized in the context of the LIFE NADAPTA project, which aims to improve the adaptive management of agriculture soils to climate change in the region. In the framework of this project, twelve zones with homogeneous conditions for plant growth were defined by combining biogeographical and vegetation series information. In a second step a network of more than 150 agricultural plots within the region were defined, where a set of soil indicators were measured, including topsoil organic carbon, available water holding capacity and bulk density.

Going a step further, this work proposes the assessment of the SES provided by the agricultural soils in the region according to different stratification options of the territory, with the aim of identifying patterns in the support of SES within these stratifications. The hypothesis of the work is that a correct stratification of the territory can allow the clustering of the territory in homogeneous service providing areas and, therefore, identify bundles of SES and define reference thresholds.To this end, a first phase involved the identification and selection of the main SES provided by the soils in the region and the definition of a set of indicators for their evaluation. The SES considered are i) biomass production, ii) erosion control, iii) climate regulation and iv) hydrological control. The definition of SES indicators has been done using the cascade as a general indicator framework. The set of indicators are going to be evaluated in a second phase of the work at the regional scale according to different stratification options within the region: no stratification, NADAPTA zoning, land use and climatic stratification.

How to cite: Antón, R., Virto, I., Coblinski, J. A., and Cousin, I.: Regional assessment of agricultural soil ecosystem services and bundles definition through spatial analysis. A regional approach in Navarre (Spain)., EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-14468,, 2023.

Javier González-Canales, Omar Anton, Adrian Borrego, Alfredo Cuevas, Ana Moreno-Delafuente, Rubén Ramos, and Blanca Sastre

Traditional olive grove management based on frequent tillage promotes erosion and soil structure loss. As a result, soil health decreases driving to degraded and impoverished soils. This problem is worst due to the location of olive groves in slope areas and the climate of central Spain, with long periods of drought and extreme rainfall events, which enhanced the erosion of bare soil. A shift to a more sustainable management model is needed, proposing groundcovers (GC) as an alternative to frequent tillage (TLL), aiming to increase soil organic carbon, protecting and retaining the soil from erosion and increasing nutrient cycling and, at the same time, enhancing other ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and the increase in soil biodiversity. A trial was carried out in LEÑOSOST project (2018-2021) selecting 16 pairs of olive groves from different farmers in Madrid Region, with a low-density framework of approximately 70 trees·ha-1 (12x12 m spacing). Each plot pair was composed of spontaneous groundcover management and its equivalent with traditional tillage. Soil sampling was carried out at four depths (0-5 cm, 5-10 cm, 10-20 cm and 20-30 cm) for the analysis of specific physical, chemical and microbiological soil properties, such as water-stable aggregates, calculated according to Kemper and Rosenau method (1986) and expressed as the percentage of micro-aggregates wet sieving resistant (< 2 mm diameter). Some soil physical properties were also measured "in situ", such as water infiltration, using a simple ring infiltrometer (Ø=12.5 cm) following the method described in USDA (2001). It has been observed that vegetation cover increases the infiltration rate almost twice in GC plots (109 mm·h-1) than in TLL plots (52mm·h-1), while the percentage of water-stable aggregates under 0-5 cm depth increased the most (49% under GC regarding 38% under TLL plots, p<0.05). Therefore, using groundcovers as olive grove management improves rainwater infiltration, enhancing water storage to be used by the olive tree, and allows the formation of soil aggregates that control soil erosion and host a large number of soil microorganisms thus, improving their functions of decomposition of organic matter and within the nutrient cycling, contributing to improve soil health.

How to cite: González-Canales, J., Anton, O., Borrego, A., Cuevas, A., Moreno-Delafuente, A., Ramos, R., and Sastre, B.: Spontaneous groundcover on olive grove management: effects on water infiltration and soil aggregate stability, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-14922,, 2023.

Piero Manna, Alessandra Aprea, Marialaura Bancheri, Angelo Basile, Gabriele Buttafuoco, Costanza Calzolari, Eduardo Medina, Paola Tarocco, and Fabrizio Ungaro

The European vision for soil by 2050 is anchored in the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 and in the Climate Adaption Strategy with the purpose of contributing significantly to several objectives of the European Green Deal and Sustainable Development Goal 15.3 of the United Nations. Consequently, Soil based Ecosystem Services (SESs) have now become a critical topic within the scientific community and policy where both definition and quantification of SESs are being actively discussed. Based on available inputs, different approaches can be chosen at the required spatial scale and outputs. Among the many available approaches, there are those based on a time-invariant soil property (e.g., clay content, AWC) or on a soil property varying on time (e.g., SOM), or yet process-based (e.g., soil functions). The study was carried out within the EJP Soil SERENA project and was aimed at comparing the outcomes of two different approaches for assessing SESs, in which soil physics is the key factor in regulating the functioning of agricultural ecosystems. In particular, i) a physically based modelling approach to map and quantify multiple potential SESs considering the non-linear processes and dynamic nature of the whole ecosystem ii) a spatially explicit indicators-based approach based on DSM and geostatistics. Both approaches are fed with soil data from the regional soil database. The study area (3703 km2) is the province of Bologna (Emilia Romagna Region, NE Italy) and was chosen because of its large variability in terms of pedoclimatic conditions with 7 climatic zones and about 200 soil mapping units. The comparison involved the following SESs: water regulation and storage, buffering capacity, climate regulation (via C stock sequestration), crop production, and was performed in terms of data availability, spatial scale, output provided, and users’ needs.

How to cite: Manna, P., Aprea, A., Bancheri, M., Basile, A., Buttafuoco, G., Calzolari, C., Medina, E., Tarocco, P., and Ungaro, F.: Multi-approach assessment of soil-based ecosystem services: the study case of Emilia Romagna Region (Italy), EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-15508,, 2023.

Stefano Mocali, Francesco Vitali, Loredana Canfora, Andrea Manfredini, Gaia Bigiotti, Francesca Antonucci, Simone Figorilli, Simona Violino, Federico Pallottino, Flavia Pinzari, Eligio Malusà, and Corrado Costa

A multi-factorial parametric characterization of soil health is crucial to monitor the correct provision of soil ecosystem services (ES) and to ensure its preservation over time in the current climate change scenario. In this framework, the implementation of biological indicators is still lagging the established use of physical and chemical indicators for soil quality assessment. Moreover, different biological groups are often analysed separately and not like a unique set of dynamic compartments that necessarily interact with each other, mutually determining soil biodiversity. Different initiatives at EU level have been undertaken to improve soil biodiversity monitoring practices, to finally promote their integration into Member States’ national soil quality monitoring policies. Nevertheless, few initiatives clearly aimed at evaluating the multiple level integration of soil health monitoring indices. at multiple level, and established practices for determining and communicating multi-level soil biological health are still scarce.

The aim of this work is to ultimately develop a framework for the synthesis of multiple indices of soil quality, focused on biological indicators, to determine soil health and monitor its provision of ES. This work dwells at the intersection of the EXCALIBUR and EJP-Soil (MINOTAUR) European projects action and consortia. As a proof-of-concept, we selected "nutrient cycling" as ES to be evaluated. We identified the soil chemical and physical indicators that could be used for the monitoring of this ES under real field conditions within different pedoclimatic contexts, and we used those variables to build an "a priori" knowledge set and model of the nutrient cycling features in the considered samples. Next, we selected a set of possible biological indicators at different scales (Ii.e. synthetic indices or specific community components) and for different levels of soil biota (Ii.e. meso-fauna, micro-fauna, bacterial and fungal microbiota). Finally, we investigated the relationship between biological and chemical-physical indicators with the working hypothesis of identifying the most robust relationships. Different unsupervised data analysis methodologies were assessed for their ability in the evaluation ofuncovering the relationship between abiotic and biotic variables, also paying attention to the possibility of clear representation of the data and results for improved communication

How to cite: Mocali, S., Vitali, F., Canfora, L., Manfredini, A., Bigiotti, G., Antonucci, F., Figorilli, S., Violino, S., Pallottino, F., Pinzari, F., Malusà, E., and Costa, C.: Methodological framework towards the synthesis of multiple biological indices of soil quality, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-16139,, 2023.

Guusje Koorneef, Ron de Goede, Sophie van Rijssel, Mirjam Pulleman, and Rob Comans

Soil organic carbon (OC) is pivotal for soil functioning, especially in the domains of elemental cycling, disease control and the regulation of soil structure and water. High OC contents are generally associated with improved soil functioning, and therefore OC content is widely used as a soil health indicator. The stability of OC influences all functions that depend on microbial decomposition (e.g. nutrient provisioning) or carbon retention (e.g. C sequestration). Yet, a standardized indicator for OC stability that can be used in soil health assessments is still in development. Here, we investigate to what extent selected OC stability indicators can predict soil functioning, and which type of OC stability indicator improves predictions most as an additional measurement besides OC content.

We collected soil samples from arable fields in the Netherlands on marine clay (n=144) and sand (n=81) soils. For each soil sample, 18 different soil function measurements were performed and grouped into 3 function domains (i.e. elemental cycling, disease control, and the regulation of soil structure and water). In addition, 21 OC stability indicators were analyzed and grouped into 4 types of OC stability indicators (i.e. carbon pools; carbon fractions, thermal stability indicators, and indicators based on elemental ratio). Multiple linear regression was used to determine how much of the variation in each soil function measurement could be predicted by the OC stability indicators and other measured intrinsic soil properties (e.g. texture and pH).

We found that OC stability and intrinsic soil properties could significantly predict soil functions better in the domain of regulation of soil structure and water (R2adj=40±18%) than in the other 2 function domains (elemental cycling: R2adj =32±31%; disease control: R2adj =22±11%). OC stability indicators could predict 80±26% of this maximum explainable variation, averaged over all soil functions (clay: 82±18%; sand: 77±32%). This percentage did not differ significantly between the function domains. A regression model with only total OC content explained 18±21% of the maximum explainable variation (clay:23±26%; sand:14±14%). The addition of 1 OC stability indicator increased this percentage to 49±23% (clay: 58±20%; sand: 39±22%). Predictions of soil functioning were most strongly improved by including a thermal stability indicator in addition to total OC content.

We conclude that OC stability indicators can predict soil functioning adequately and that thermal stability indicators show particular potential as OC stability indicator in soil health assessments.

How to cite: Koorneef, G., de Goede, R., van Rijssel, S., Pulleman, M., and Comans, R.: Capability of selected indicators for soil organic carbon stability to predict soil functions, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-17196,, 2023.

Marketa Mareckova, Alena Maslova, Darya Nasyrova, Jan Kopecky, Guenola Peres, Felipe Bastida, Carmen Trasar-Cepeda, Cristina Aponte, and Stefano Mocali

Soil health has been defined as the soil's capacity to support crop growth without becoming degraded. Yet, soil health is under threat by overuse, climate change, salinization, erosion, compaction, nutrient depletion, contamination with toxic heavy metals or pesticides, overgrazing, and human assisted migration of soil-borne pests. Many agricultural practices that are proposed to be sustainable provide relatively small improvements and merely slow down the rate of degradation, which means that soils remain endangered. Thus, not only improvements in soil quality and fertility, but also a restoration of the soil food web, locking-up carbon in soil organic matter, improving water holding capacity, and diminishing soilborne pest outbreaks need to be addressed. To establish a representative database of soil factors changes induced by various agriculture management as well as factors reflecting local soil conditions and climate, seven long term experiments were sampled for physical, chemical and biological soil characteristics. Those include also the community composition and quantity of microorganisms, namely bacteria, archaea and fungi, which seem to be the most promising soil bioindicators. Thus, the main goal of the study was to combine the soil factors representing soil management and relate them to soil microbial communities for estimation of changes in microbial phylogenetic and functional diversity, which will be proposed as indicators of soil health. Since some management practices are replicated within our data set, the selected indicators will be determined using one set of sites and confirmed using another set of sites. The experiment is part of the EJP Soil – MINOTAUR project and covers different regions of Europe, so we anticipate proposing those indicators for agriculture practices as a measure of changes in soil quality and prediction of future soil development.

How to cite: Mareckova, M., Maslova, A., Nasyrova, D., Kopecky, J., Peres, G., Bastida, F., Trasar-Cepeda, C., Aponte, C., and Mocali, S.: Microbial bioindicators of soil health and management practices using long-term experiments across Europe, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-17354,, 2023.

Sharjeel Ashfaq, Guénola Pérès, Rajasekaran Murugan, and Johann Zaller

Soil macrofauna plays a crucial role in ecosystem services and stability. They perform diverse set of ecosystem services that contribution to soil health, plant, and human wellbeing. However, little is known about the diversity, abundance, and distribution of soil macrofauna in Europe. Furthermore, the extent to which soil management practices impact these soil microorganisms in agroecosystems across pedoclimatic conditions is not well understood. Investigating of underlying ecological relationships is hampered by the lack of harmonized, interactive, and continental-scale data in agroecosystems. To assess the role of soil macrofauna in agricultural soils, appropriate functional indicators with their patterns and biomass are needed. The project MINOTAUR (Modelling and mapping soil biodiversity patterns and functions across Europe) under the EJP SOIL program aims to address the lack of harmonized and central databases for soil macrofauna and their driving factors in agricultural soils across Europe. Soil macrofauna’s diversity and biomass are being identified and collected from various data platforms, databases, EU projects and considers grey data sources in different countries. Standardized metadata templates have developed for collected data in reference to location, management practices and condition of agricultural soils. The database in agricultural systems will be compared (arable vs perennial) with associated soil functions and properties. Data will be harmonized with closely interaction with project partners (e.g., EUdaphobase, European Soil Observatory, JRC databases) to make an interactive inventory of European soil macrofauna indicating driving factors (climatic and soil and management variables) for long term-use and to identify knowledge gaps on soil macrofauna research. Sharing of integrated harmonized data by MINOTAUR project and through standardized database will allow researchers to investigate and respond to a wide range of topics, such as simultaneously evaluating soil macrofauna diversity distributions and causes of diversity change. Finally, such a comprehensive database will support policy makers in their efforts to halt a further loss of soil biodiversity across Europe and will allow them to make policies regarding soil health issues by using the harmonized data.

How to cite: Ashfaq, S., Pérès, G., Murugan, R., and Zaller, J.: Importance of harmonized data in soil macrofauna monitoring in Europe- Soil management a key indicator, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-17438,, 2023.