Biodiversity in agricultural used soils: Threats and options for its conservation in Germany and Europe


  • Moritz Nabel German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)
  • Christian Selig German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)
  • Johanna Gundlach German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)
  • Henrike von der Decken German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)
  • Manfred Klein German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)



Soil Biodiversity, Agriculture, Ecosystem Services, Threats, Conservation


Agriculture and soil biodiversity are highly interdependent. Agriculture strongly depends on essential ecosystem services of an active and diverse soil life, leading to soil fertility. Fertile soil is the basis for the cultivation of vital, robust and productive crops. However, today’s intensive agriculture partly aims at replacing certain natural ecosystem services by intense agricultural practices and the use of agrochemicals. Even more, these intensive practices including intense mechanical soil tillage, pollution from contaminated fertilizers and pesticides pose direct threats to soil biodiversity. Although the biggest share of soil biodiversity has not yet been taxonomically recorded, there is evidence of a decline in soil biodiversity.
There are many opportunities in agriculture to support an active and diverse soil life and profit from its related ecosystem services. Here we present a set of actions to promote soil biodiversity in agricultural used soils including measures from integrated pest and nutrient management, conservation soil cultivation and agricultural diversification. All these actions show synergies for a transition of agricultural productions systems to a more sustainable and climate change smart production. This transition process needs to be understood as a process relevant to society as a whole. Therefore, extra efforts cannot be borne by farmers alone, but adequate subsidies with a clear focus on soil biodiversity need to be implemented in agricultural policies on national and international level. At international level the 15th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD COP15) can set the frame for the future of soil biodiversity. On European and national level, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and its implementation via the national strategic plans will be key for a transition to a soil biodiversity promoting agricultural production. Investments in research and development help to continuously develop measures and legal frameworks and to invest in effective soil protection in the long term.


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How to Cite

Nabel, M., Selig, C., Gundlach, J., von der Decken, H., & Klein, M. (2021). Biodiversity in agricultural used soils: Threats and options for its conservation in Germany and Europe. SOIL ORGANISMS, 93(1), 1–11.