Articles | Volume 3, issue 1
SOIL, 3, 45–59, 2017

Special issue: Soil science in a changing world: contributions of soil science...

SOIL, 3, 45–59, 2017

Review article 01 Mar 2017

Review article | 01 Mar 2017

Soil conservation in the 21st century: why we need smart agricultural intensification

Gerard Govers et al.

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Moderate topsoil erosion rates constrain the magnitude of the erosion-induced carbon sink and agricultural productivity losses on the Chinese Loess Plateau
Jianlin Zhao, Kristof Van Oost, Longqian Chen, and Gerard Govers
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Cited articles

Alexandratos, N. and Bruinsma, J.: World agriculture towards 2030/2050: The 2012 revision, ESA Working paper, 2012.
Angers, D. A. and Eriksen-Hamel, N. S.: Full-inversion tillage and organic carbon distribution in soil profiles: A meta-analysis, Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 72, 1370–1374,, 2008.
Arnalds, A.: Approaches to Landcare–a century of soil conservation in Iceland, Land Degrad. Dev., 16, 113–125, 2005.
Bakker, M. M., Govers, G., Kosmas, C., Vanacker, V., van Oost, K., and Rounsevell, M.: Soil erosion as a driver of land-use change, Agr. Ecosyst. Environ., 105, 467–481,, 2005.
Batjes, N. H.: Total carbon and nitrogen in the soils of the world, Eur. J. Soil Sci., 47, 151–163,, 1996.
Short summary
We discuss pathways towards better soil protection in the 21st century. The efficacy of soil conservation technology is not a fundamental barrier for a more sustainable soil management. However, soil conservation is generally not directly beneficial to the farmer. We believe that the solution of this conundrum is a rapid, smart intensification of agriculture in the Global South. This will reduce the financial burden and will, at the same time, allow more effective conservation.