Sustainable futures over the next decade are rooted in soil science

Daniel L. Evans*, Victoria Janes-Bassett, Pasquale Borrelli, Claire Chenu, Carla S.S. Ferreira, Robert I. Griffiths, Zahra Kalantari, Saskia Keesstra, Rattan Lal, Panos Panagos, David A. Robinson, Samaneh Seifollahi-Aghmiuni, Pete Smith, Tammo S. Steenhuis, Amy Thomas, Saskia M. Visser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The importance of soils to society has gained increasing recognition over the past decade, with the potential to contribute to most of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With unprecedented and growing demands for food, water and energy, there is an urgent need for a global effort to address the challenges of climate change and land degradation, whilst protecting soil as a natural resource. In this paper, we identify the contribution of soil science over the past decade to addressing gaps in our knowledge regarding major environmental challenges: climate change, food security, water security, urban development, and ecosystem functioning and biodiversity. Continuing to address knowledge gaps in soil science is essential for the achievement of the SDGs. However, with limited time and budget, it is also pertinent to identify effective methods of working that ensure the research carried out leads to real-world impact. Here, we suggest three strategies for the next decade of soil science, comprising a greater implementation of research into policy, interdisciplinary partnerships to evaluate function trade-offs and synergies between soils and other environmental domains, and integrating monitoring and modelling methods to ensure soil-based policies can withstand the uncertainties of the future. Highlights: We highlight the contributions of soil science to five major environmental challenges since 2010. Researchers have contributed to recommendation reports, but work is rarely translated into policy. Interdisciplinary work should assess trade-offs and synergies between soils and other domains. Integrating monitoring and modelling is key for robust and sustainable soils-based policymaking.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Science
Issue number1
Early online date13 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • biodiversity
  • climate change
  • ecosystems
  • food security
  • sustainable development goals
  • urban development
  • water security


Dive into the research topics of 'Sustainable futures over the next decade are rooted in soil science'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this