Soil and ecosystem services: Current knowledge and evidences from Italian case studies

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivista

16 Citazioni (Scopus)


Soil management is fundamental to all agroecosystems and affects ecosystem processes that are involved in the provision of multiple ecosystem services (ES). Agricultural soils are the habitat for key functional organisms which collectively as soil biota contribute to soil ES provision: supporting biomass production and nutrient cycling, regulating of climate, water and biological control of pests and diseases. As result of an increased awareness on the importance of soil ES, soil science is playing an active role in informing the ecological intensification of agriculture. In this study, the lessons learned from Italian case studies on the usefulness of using a soil health assessment framework based on multiple soil ES are presented. Soil health as an integrative property of agroecosystem management can be evaluated with a set of physical, chemical, and biological indicators representative of essential soil ES. This is the basis of the Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF) (Andrews et al., 2004) and it is based on a three-step process that includes indicator selection, indicator interpretation, and integration into a final index. In northern Italy, several field trials have been set up to assess multiple ES provision from bioenergy crops cultivated on marginal conditions and from contrasting vegetable cropping systems. These studies revealed how the use of a comprehensive soil health assessment framework can help: (1) to identify the best soil management practices that deliver multiple ES and (2) to support resource-efficient production. Beyond academic research, the integration of multiple indicators of soil health within the assessment of agroecosystems sustainability is essential if we want to promote ecological intensification of food and bioenergy production.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)693-698
RivistaApplied Soil Ecology
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2018


  • Bioenergy crops
  • Ecological intensification
  • Ecosystem services
  • Soil biota
  • Soil health
  • Soil management


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