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Multi-scale assessment of soil ecosystem services in agroecosystems – Soilserv

Submission summary

Global food security entails fertile soils capable of providing food for a growing population and also contributing to other needs such as energy, clothing, etc. However, soils also play a major role in flow regulation within the biosphere and host an important biodiversity underlying biological processes which contribute to overall ecosystem ecology and functioning. Sustainable management of cultivated soils must therefore combine provisioning ecosystem services to a web of supporting and regulation services. Such comprehensive management of soil ecosystem services (SES) is challenging due to the complexity of the positive or negative interactions between services and the difficulty to assess the impact of practices or management on these services.

The main objective of the SOILSERV project is to combine biophysical and socio-economic approaches to assess at different spatial scales ecosystem services of agricultural soils and to analyze their economic valuation in farmers or public decisions.
Within mixed agroecosystems involving crops, livestock production and uncultivated areas, SOILSERV aims at jointly evaluating provisioning (crop production), regulating (water quality, climate change, biodiversity conservation) and supporting (preservation of soil quality) ecosystem services and to study their interactions. The selected spatial scales correspond either to decision levels for agricultural practices (field, farm) and landscape management (the commune, set of farms) or to relevant scales in terms of biophysical processes (landscape, watershed).

The project involves three research axes: (1) the biophysical assessment of SES at different spatial scales, by mobilizing and comparing descriptors derived from measures, modelling results or more easily accessible indicators; (2) the prediction at the required spatial scales of soil characteristics necessary to soil ecosystem services assessment, through innovative disaggregation and change of support approaches of existing soil spatial information; (3) the integration of soil-related information into farm management models and territory planning strategies in order to consider soil sustainability criteria into the decision-making process.

By assembling a multidisciplinary academic team (agronomy, biogeochemistry, ecology, hydrology, pedology, spatial modelling and economy) with professional partners (consulting firm, metropolitan government), SOILSERV aims at clarifying the concepts and consolidate the methods of SES assessment, by identifying approaches best suited according to the target scale and available information. The joined biophysical evaluation of ecosystem services with their economic assessment within agricultural holdings and with territory planning procedures, intends to identify the social conditions and the potential impact on production and environment of a multi-SES strategy.
In the end, SOILSERV aims at increasing the synergy between the ecosystem functioning and social organization of the territories, taking into account the complexity of the soils and associated uncertainties.

Project coordinator

Monsieur Christian WALTER (Sols, Agrohydrosystèmes, Spatialisation)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


Pôle métropolitain Nantes Saint-Nazaire
INRA Orléans - 1106 INFOSOL US 1106 INFOSOL
CRDQ, Agriculture et Agroalimentaire Can CRDQ (Centre de Recherche et de Développement de Québec)
INRA RENNES 1349 IGEPP Institut de Génétique, Environnement et protection des cultures
INRA RENNES 1302 SMART Structures et Marchés Agricoles, Ressources et Territoires
INRA RENNES 069 SAS Sols, Agrohydrosystèmes, Spatialisation

Help of the ANR 504,130 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2016 - 48 Months

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