SoilTrEC proposes to develop an integrated model of soil processes that describes key soil functions. These functions are defined in the EC Soil Thematic Strategy as essential ecosystem services for the well-being and economic success of the EU. The key science advances are to develop, from first-principles, computational models that integrate soil erosion, solute transport, carbon dynamics and food web dynamics within an open-source modelling framework. This framework will provide the platform, together with existing GIS capacity, for a prototype simulator at EU-scale to assess soil threats and evaluate approaches to mitigation. This physical-based modelling will be integrated with new advances in decision support developed from life cycle and economic assessment methodologies for natural resources. A key conceptual advance of this project is to quantify soil stocks, their formation, loss and functions within the context of the earth’s Critical Zone. This encompasses the terrestrial environment from the top of the biosphere’s tree canopy to the bedrock delineating the lower bounds of freshwater aquifers. SoilTrEC will link 4 EU field sites that describe key stages within the life cycle of soil formation, its productive use and degradation. Existing data sets will be augmented with targeted process studies in order to provide the data sets to validate the integrated model of soil processes. These process studies will be integrated with results from additional EU, USA and Chinese field sites to compare soil processes and rates as they vary with lithology, climate and land use. These sites and their teams will be integrated through shared results and an international research training programme into a global network of Critical Zone Observatories. This programme of research will engage very actively with stakeholders involved in the practical management of land, and will draw strongly on the advice and guidance of international leaders in soil sustainability.