[from p. 11]
Soil is the primary resource for life on our planet. It is also a very vulnerable resource. Human
activities may cause that soils degrade and that it loses its value for vital ecosystem services, such as the production of food, the storage of clean water, and the habitat for species rich
natural ecosystems. Soil is also a key component in the global environmental processes. It governs the global cycling of carbon and nutrients, and by this climate change, food
productivity and ecosystem eutrophication.
Therefore, understanding ‘soil’ has become an integral part in our thinking about sustainability, both in terms of human health and welfare as in terms of environmental quality and
biodiversity conservation. Soil science is recognised as key discipline in achieving some of the most important Millennium Development Goals, such as the eradication of hunger and the
sustainable development of our environment. Also, Rockström and colleagues (Nature 461,
472-475, 2009) argue that to avoid catastrophic environmental change, humanity must stay
within defined 'planetary boundaries' for a range of essential Earth-system processes. For all the nine planet processes that are analyzed, soil is a key determinant in the proposed
The Wageningen Conference on Applied Soil Science has chosen to take the role of soil for our society as focal point. Key-note lectures, parallel sessions and interactive workshops will deal
with issues like food security, water resources, climate change, biodiversity, and governance.
As the international society asks us to meet the millennium development goals, this conference provides the opportunity for soil scientists to reflect on the contribution of the soil sciences in
this context, and how we as a scientific discipline should go forward.