Vital soil as basis for sustainable soil management, a survey of soil problems in The Netherlands and the way to tackle it, with an assessment for the South African situation

  • H. Eijsackers Wageningen Universiteit en Research Centrum, postbus 9101, 6700 HB Wageningen, Nederland; Instituut Ecologische Wetenschappen Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; Departement Soologie Universiteit Stellenbosch
  • M. Maboeta School voor Milieuwetenschappen & Ontwikkeling Noordwes-Universiteit, Privaat sak X6001 Potchefstroom 2520
  • P. Doelman Doelman Advies, August Faliseweg 10, 6703 AS Wageningen, Nederland


In the past decades, soils in South Africa as well as The Netherlands have become increasingly deteriorated as a result of chemical and physical factors. Soil contamination, acidification, desiccation and erosion have caused negative impacts on land surfaces which are still on the increase. Soil functions like primary plant production, natural soil water clean up, basis and substrate for the above ground biodiversity and food chains, have become completely or partially impaired. The awareness, that soil is a vital and living system has to become the basis of soil policy and soil management. This paper is a plea for such an approach. It describes the various threats, what a vital soil is and which factors play a key role in this vital system: soil structure, buffer capacity, organic matter content, and the variety of soil organisms. It also indicates how the vitality of the soil should be monitored.
Original Research