Current and future demand of land use for delivery of goods for example food, biofuels and fibres, is greater than the amount of soil surface available. In addition, the production of biofuel is expected to increasingly compete with agricultural areas for production of food but also land areas for nature conservation. Soils and soil biodiversity are the basis of terrestrial production systems as soil produces ecosystem services, such as control of greenhouse gases, nutrients and control of invasive species. It is urgent to understand the impact of a bio-based European economy on the sustainability of soils.
The main objective of SOILSERVICE is to understand how economic production drivers can change current and future use of soil-related ecosystems services. SOILSERVICE will value soil biodiversity through the impact on ecosystem services and propose how these values can be granted at different land use as in production of biofuel, food and nature conservation. Field and modelling studies can determine at what spatial and temporal scales soil biodiversity and soil ecosystem services are vulnerable to disturbance and also sustainable in the long run. Processes will be detected that indicate when soil sub-systems are sustainable or when they are approaching the limits of their natural performance or productive capacity. Finally, SOILSERVICE builds scenarios to identify economical and social drivers, which are key to soil biodiversity and sustainable provision of ecosystem goods and services across Europe.
SOILSERVICE directly investigates different intensities of land usage, threats to soil biodiversity and related ecosystem services as well as possibilities to conserve and restore soil biodiversity and the economic values of these services. Biodiversity and ecosystem services will be studied at multiple farm sites (country sites are shown to the left) in European regions that will represent a climatic gradient of moisture and temperature and with differences in soil organic matter. SOILSERVICE will study a variety of soil conditions, biodiversity of soil organisms and their retention of carbon and nitrogen, as well as services indicating sustainable soils. Integrating economical and biological models will make predictions on how economic drivers affect soil biodiversity in the present and for the future.
Soilservice will construct quantitative scenarios of long-term land use change across Europe. From direct investigations of how land use induces changes in soil biodiversity it can be determined how soil nutrients can be retained even after extensive use. We will from this project be able to make more precise predictions that link economy together with production (food vs. biofuel), land use, soil biodiversity and sustainability. This information can be used by broad range of decision and policy makers within the European community for future development of EU biofuel and soil strategies.