The theme 'Managing our Land' deals with the impacts of agricultural management on soil biota and soil quality. We propose that through the correct soil management practices, we can optimise multi-functionality of our soils, including soil functions such as primary productivity, carbon management, nutrient cycling, water regulation and habitat for biodiversity. Soil biota has a lead role to play in promoting these functions through the mineralisation of nutrients or decomposition of organic matter in soils.
All soils have the capacity to deliver all functions, but the landscape, land use and management strongly influence which soils deliver which functions at an optimum capacity. Therefore, by selecting the right management practices, we can optimise at least three of these functions in each scenario, rather than the traditional focus on primary production alone.
Soil biology is essential in driving the processes which govern these five functions. Therefore the right implementation of management practices to enhance the biological functional performance of our soils is crucial to maximise soil functions. This topic looks at the multi-functional capacity of our soils, from the national to European scale, through monitoring and indicators of soil quality and adaptation to more sustainable agricultural systems.