Over the last three decades, Soil Scientists have spent a great deal of time seeking to derive quantitative measures of soil quality. Progress has been slow because soil scientists have failed to agree on what should be the criteria used in the determination. The rationale behind the introduction of the concept of soil quality was to endeavour to highlight the value of soil to society and to stress the need for soil protection. The generally stated aim was to provide a quantitative measure to guide soil management and to highlight the loss to society when soils are lost or damaged as a result of misuse.
The lecture will briefly review the developments in the attempts to establish measures of soil quality and question whether these efforts have made any significant contribution to increasing the protection and sustainable management of soils. While soil scientists may think they have made progress in this area but questions still need to be asked, such as:
- Has there been any impact beyond the Soil Science community?
- Is a single measure of soil quality possible?
- Do attempts to derive a single soil quality measure undermine the value of such approaches?
Recent developments in the concept of ecosystem services have provided a much more focused approach to quantifying the quality of soils with the determination of the value of soils to the functioning and performance of human and natural systems, which may provide a more rational way of determining soil value and ensure that there is wider understanding of the value of soils to many aspects of our lives.
This event will be of interest to agriculture advisors and scientists, farmers and growers, soil scientists, environmental scientists, soil ecologists, soil microbiologists, chemists working in the area of soil analysis, those involved in the area of soil improvers and those involved in sewage sludge re use.
Day 1 - 28 November 2017
- Registration and refreshments
- Lecture finish followed by a wine reception
Venue and Contact
This event is free to attend
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About the speaker
Stephen Nortcliff is Emeritus Professor of Soil Science at the University of Reading having retired as Professor of Soil Science in 2011 after 33 years at the University of Reading. He has published over 150 scientific papers across a range of areas of soil science, including soil variability, sustainable soil management with a strong focus on soils of the tropics, soil quality and soil security, together with books and articles for non-expert readerships. He has been actively involved in the development of British Standards as a member of the BSI’s Technical Committees on Soil Quality and Topsoil and Growing Media, Chairing the Soil Quality Committee from its inception in 1986 to 2003. Since 1990 he has worked on the use of recycled organic wastes as composts and anaerobic digestates as soil amendments and as components of manufactured soils. He took an active role in the development of the Soil Action Plan for Defra between 2004 and 2006 and the European Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection
for the European Commission between 2003 and 2006. He was Secretary General for the International Union of Soil Science between 2003 and 2010.