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SOIL An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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We discuss pathways towards better soil protection in the 21st century. The efficacy of soil conservation technology is not a fundamental barrier for a more sustainable soil management. However, soil conservation is generally not directly beneficial to the farmer. We believe that the solution of this conundrum is a rapid, smart intensification of agriculture in the Global South. This will reduce the financial burden and will, at the same time, allow more effective conservation.

Gerard Govers, Roel Merckx, Bas van Wesemael, and Kristof Van Oost

For this study we systematically investigated the molecular pattern of leaf waxes in litter and topsoils along a European transect to assess their potential for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. Our results show that leaf wax patterns depend on the type of vegetation. The vegetation signal is not only found in the litter; it can also be preserved to some degree in the topsoil.

Imke K. Schäfer, Verena Lanny, Jörg Franke, Timothy I. Eglinton, Michael Zech, Barbora VyslouĹžilová, and Roland Zech

Soil records provide information about 5 millennia of heath management in cultural landscapes on sandy soils. Deforestations and the introduction of the deep, stable economy in the 18th century resulted in sand drifting and heath degradation. After the introduction of chemical fertilizers more than 90 % of the heaths were transformed into productive arable field or forests. Currently the last heaths are preserved as part of the cultural heritage.

M. Doorenbosch and J. M. van Mourik

The Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils has completed the first State of the World’s Soil Resources Report. The gravest threats were identified for all the regions of the world. This assessment forms a basis for future soil monitoring. The quality of soil information available for policy formulation must be improved.

L. Montanarella, D. J. Pennock, N. McKenzie, M. Badraoui, V. Chude, I. Baptista, T. Mamo, M. Yemefack, M. Singh Aulakh, K. Yagi, S. Young Hong, P. Vijarnsorn, G.-L. Zhang, D. Arrouays, H. Black, P. Krasilnikov, J. Sobocká, J. Alegre, C. R. Henriquez, M. de Lourdes Mendonça-Santos, M. Taboada, D. Espinosa-Victoria, A. AlShankiti, S. K. AlaviPanah, E. A. E. M. Elsheikh, J. Hempel, M. Camps Arbestain, F. Nachtergaele, and R. Vargas

The study of soil N cycling processes has been, is, and will be at the centre of attention in soil science research. The importance of N as a nutrient for all biota; the ever-increasing rates of its anthropogenic input in terrestrial (agro)ecosystems; its resultant losses to the environment; and the complexity of the biological, physical, and chemical factors that regulate N cycling processes all contribute to the necessity of further understanding, measuring, and altering the soil N cycle.

J. W. van Groenigen, D. Huygens, P. Boeckx, Th. W. Kuyper, I. M. Lubbers, T. Rütting, and P. M. Groffman

The huge carbon stocks found in soils of the permafrost region are important to the global climate system because of their potential to decompose and release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere upon thawing. This review highlights permafrost characteristics, the influence of cryogenic processes on soil formation, organic carbon accumulation and distribution in permafrost soils, the vulnerability of this carbon upon permafrost thaw, and the role of permafrost soils in a changing climate.

C. L. Ping, J. D. Jastrow, M. T. Jorgenson, G. J. Michaelson, and Y. L. Shur

Since seeds are the principle means by which plants move across the landscape, the final fate of seeds plays a fundamental role in the origin, maintenance, functioning and dynamics of plant communities. In arid and semiarid patchy ecosystems, where seeds are scattered into a heterogeneous environment and intense rainfalls occur, the transport of seeds by runoff to new sites represents an opportunity for seeds to reach more favourable sites for seed germination and seedling survival.

E. Bochet

This paper provides a brief accounting of some of the many ways that the study of soils can be interdisciplinary, therefore giving examples of the types of papers we hope to see submitted to SOIL.

E. C. Brevik, A. Cerdà, J. Mataix-Solera, L. Pereg, J. N. Quinton, J. Six, and K. Van Oost

In the present paper we explore to what degree soil properties might have influenced pre-Columbian settlement patterns in the Monumental Mounds Region (MMR) of the Llanos de Moxos (LM), Bolivian Amazon. This study provides new data on the soil properties of the south-eastern Bolivian Amazon and reinforces the hypothesis that environmental constraints and opportunities exerted an important role on pre-Columbian occupation patterns and the population density reached in the Bolivian Amazon.

U. Lombardo, S. Denier, and H. Veit

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