The paper presents a methodological framework for quantifying soil ecosystem health with special focus on chemical stressors and ecological integrity as determinant for biological productivity of soil ecosystems. Ecological risk assessment is needed to facilitate the assessment of soil health and the capability of a soil to provide ecosystem services such as e.g. detoxification and decomposition of wastes, soil formation and renewal of soil fertility. We have developed such an approach that is based on systematic enumeration of vulnerable indicators that reflect essential soil ecosystem structures and processes that underlay such soil ecosystem services. The method is illustrated for a shortlist of common chemical stressors, represented by nickel, cadmium, chlorpyriphos, lindane and diazinon, and applied in a comparative assessment of suitability for use of grassland on contaminated soil. A comprehensive and relevant set of ecological integrity indicators has been analysed to derive a smaller core set of indicators highly relevant for all types of grassland use; i.e. reflecting ecological requirements to be fulfilled for any sustainable use of grassland.
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