Functional land use

Water regulation

The capacity of a soil to receive, store and conduct water for subsequent use and the reduction of consequences of prolonged droughts and risks of flooding and erosion .

Water purification

The capacity of a soil to remove harmful compounds from the water that it holds.

Soil quality

The degree to which a soil can perform its soil functions. A soil with ‘high soil quality’ can deliver the desired functions to meet demands, whereas a soil with ‘low soil quality’ delivers functions at sub-optimal rates.

Soil productivity

The capacity of a soil to produce plant biomass for human use, providing food, feed, fibre and fuel within natural or managed ecosystem boundaries.

Soil functions

Soil based ecosystem services: an overarching concept referring to one (out of five, following Schulte et al., 2014) elemental aspect of the soil system that contributes to the generation of goods and services. The contemporary principal soil functions pertaining to agricultural land use (U110) and forestry (U120) include: (1) primary productivity, (2) water purification and [...]

S x E x M

Expression used to indicate that there are intricate interactions between soil properties i.e. diagnostic features (intrinsic and dynamic ones), environment (climate, weather, slope, etc.) and management (the analogue from crop production is G (genotype) x E x M), acknowledging that soil functions are never uniquely determined by just one of these three factors.


The ability of an ecosystem to maintain diversity, integrity and ecological processes following disturbance (i.e. by returning to its initial state after stress).


The ability of an ecosystem to withstand a stress or perturbation without adverse changes to its structure or function, thereby maintaining an equilibrium state.

Proxy indicator system

A combined set of indicators, weighting factors and algorithms for quantification of a soil function based on the quantification of an agreed set of attributes. A proxy indicator system aims at the assemblage of a wide-ranging set of information from indicators (in fact: all required proxies) and provides a quantification protocol of a specific soil [...]


A measure linking information from an indicator to a non-concrete (immaterial) end-point (‘soil function’ in the case of LANDMARK). However, a proxy only contributes to a soil function and cannot be held responsible to full quantification (see proxy indicator system).