Soil health is the soil’s capacity to function in the long term as a living system, i.e. capable of insuring a plant biomass productivity compatible with long-term maintenance of the ecological functions of natural or cultivated ecosystems, and with related processes: contribution to the preservation of natural resources, that is to say air, water, and biodiversity, quantitatively and qualitatively, and contribution to the health of plants, animals and humans by promoting the physiological processes that are involved in their self-defence systems.
This definition, by focusing on biological components and processes, has gradually emerged in the 2000s from the definition of “soil quality” which dominated in the 1990s and focused almost exclusively on the aspects of physical and chemical fertility of soils.
Hence, soil health is a keystone principle in the agroecological transition perspective.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the united nations (FAO). 2011. Save and Grow : A policymaker’s guide to the sustainable intensification of smallholder crop production. FAO, 2011. 112p. ISBN 978-92-5-106871-7