An Underground Revolution: Biodiversity and Soil Ecological Engineering for Agricultural Sustainability

Trends Ecol Evol. 2016 Jun;31(6):440-452. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2016.02.016. Epub 2016 Mar 16.


Soil organisms are an integral component of ecosystems, but their activities receive little recognition in agricultural management strategies. Here we synthesize the potential of soil organisms to enhance ecosystem service delivery and demonstrate that soil biodiversity promotes multiple ecosystem functions simultaneously (i.e., ecosystem multifunctionality). We apply the concept of ecological intensification to soils and we develop strategies for targeted exploitation of soil biological traits. We compile promising approaches to enhance agricultural sustainability through the promotion of soil biodiversity and targeted management of soil community composition. We present soil ecological engineering as a concept to generate human land-use systems, which can serve immediate human needs while minimizing environmental impacts.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • Biodiversity*
  • Ecology
  • Ecosystem
  • Humans
  • Soil*


  • Soil