The Centre for Soil Ecology goes national

Scientists involved in the new National Centre for Soil ecology together
© Perro de Jong

The Centre for Soil Ecology goes national


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Today, on World Soil Day, it is the perfect moment to present the new National Centre for Soil Ecology. All soil ecologists working in the Netherlands can now connect to the initiative that originally started in Wageningen.

In 2010 the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) and Wageningen University and Research (WUR) brought the soil ecologists in Wageningen together. The Centre for Soil Ecology (CSE) was established and functioned as a worthwhile linking pin for all things connected to soil ecology research. However, as soil ecology is happening all across the Netherlands, there was a need to transform the CSE into a national centre to connect soil ecologists in the whole country.


“On 14 november 2023 we organised a kick-off meeting to launch the National Centre for Soil Ecology,” says Ciska Veen, senior researcher from the Terrestrial Ecology Department at NIOO. She was one of the chairs of the event. “Over 125 people from more than 25 institutions registered, including universities, research institutes, universities of applied sciences, companies and practitioners.” The result? “A very positive and energetic vibe to work together in this platform and further our field of research.”

During the day, the soil ecologists got an overview of the current research in the Netherlands. Soil ecologists from different career stages and fields presented their work in short pitches. “We learned about highly mechanistic research carried out under very controlled conditions up to research in living labs and field trials working together with farmers and stakeholders,” explains Veen. In the afternoon the NPEC research facility in Utrecht was visited, to see the set ups to test how plant-soil interactions impact plant growth, soil biodiversity and soil functions.

Perro de Jong
The organisers present the signatures of participants supporting the National Centre for Soil Ecology


An interactive discussion on the future of the National Centre for Soil Ecology made it clear that soil ecologists are excited to team up in a National Centre for Soil Ecology. That fact was confirmed by the large number of signatories for “I support the new National Centre for Soil Ecology”. Receiving the signatures was Geert de Snoo, director of the NIOO-KNAW, also on behalf of WUR. The founders of the CSE initiative welcome the transformation to a national platform.

Knowledge on our soil will become increasingly important to keep it healthy, as an essential basis for our entire society. “A living soil – from microorganism to mole – is essential to sustainable land use,” states De Snoo. “It is connected to the challenges we face in biodiversity and climate. Think of the large amounts of carbon stored in the soil, instead of being emitted as greenhouse gases.”

Veen concludes: “The coming months we will take the next steps and use all the great input from the day to decide on the activities that the NCSE will carry out in the coming years. We can grow into giving our field of science a powerful voice.” We’ll keep you posted!

Perro de Jong
Participants listening to the talks, with one of the CSE founders Wim van der Putten on the front row.
Perro de Jong / NIOO-KNAW
Soil ecologists of the Netherlands gathered for the kick-off of the National Centre for Soil Ecology.