National Centre for Soil Ecology

participants of the National Centre for Soil Ecology

The National Centre for Soil Ecology (NCSE) is a virtual platform to connect soil ecologists in the Netherlands. NCSE is a grassroots initiative led by Dutch universities, research institutions and universities of applied sciences.



The aim of the National Centre for Soil Ecology (NCSE) is to stimulate interactions between soil ecologists and facilitate collaboration and knowledge exchange between researchers and between research and practice. Worldwide, the Netherlands is a front runner in soil ecological research and NCSE is envisaged to keep and further expand playing this role and in exchanging knowledge at the national level.


Background: Why soil ecology is important?

Soil ecology is a research field that currently experiences a fast development. The biodiversity of soil organisms is an important fundament of a sustainable society. Everything we eat, drink, breath, wear as clothes, or use as a resource for feed and bioenergy products originates in some way from the soil. In the soil, many substances are continuously altered or decomposed by soil organisms. Soil organisms are also responsible for soil formation and developing soil structure. Without soils there would be no food, and without food there won’t be people living on earth! In addition, the soil is an important actor in climate change, as it may buffer against rising CO2 levels, provide water holding capacity that can prevent, or delay flooding or erosion, and it contains biota that can control biological invasions of exotic species, human pathogens, or soil-borne crop pests. Bad use of soil may result in outbreaks of pests and pathogens, loss of aboveground biodiversity, and release of greenhouse gasses.

The quality of the soil determines the rate at which land use changes occur. Also, soil organisms play an important role in the development of soil structure, water storage capacity, composition of aboveground biodiversity, and success of pest control in agriculture, forestry and horticulture. Degradation of the soil physic-chemical environment, and loss of soil biodiversity may reduce the production capacity of soil, with possible side

effects on atmospheric composition, climate regulation, water storage, food production, and nature conservation.

Currently, many issues of societal concern relate to proper use of soil and its biodiversity: proper distribution of water rights and food are often factors determining whether peace can be maintained, and proper soils determine water and food availability. Decline of soils and soil biodiversity reduce the capacity of ecosystems to provide clean water and food, so that improper soil use will weaken fundaments of a sustainable environment and society.



The organisation of NSCE is done by 10 institutions across the Netherlands:

  • Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)
  • Wageningen University and Research (WUR)
  • Leiden University (LU)
  • University of Amsterdam (UvA)
  • Utrecht University (UU)
  • University of Groningen (RuG)
  • Radboud University (RU)
  • HAS Green Academy
  • Van Hall Larenstein (VHL)
  • AERES University of Applied Sciences
  • Westerdijk Institute

Additional organisations are welcomed!

Mission and Vision


Soil ecology is at the basis of some of the main current challenges that we face as a society. Improving soil biodiversity and health will stimulate sustainable agriculture, land use, and aid in climate change adaptation and mitigation. There is an increasing demand for knowledge in soil ecology, which needs to be further developed, transferred, and valorized. Establishing connections among soil ecologists through a national network will be essential for enhancing knowledge exchange. 


The mission of the National Centre for Soil Ecology is to build an active network of soil ecologists in the Netherlands, where researchers can build connections and collaborations and exchange knowledge and research facilities.



The CSE was initiated by Wim van der Putten and Hans van Veen (NIOO-KNAW), and Peter de Ruiter and Lijbert Brussaard (Wageningen University and Research, WUR). It was established in 2010 as a virtual cooperation between NIOO-KNAW and WUR with the aim to bring together soil ecologists in Wageningen and to train future generations of leaders in this field, from basic to applied research approaches. In 2023, researchers from several universities and research institutions felt the need to expand CSE into a National Centre for Soil Ecology, to connect soil ecologists across the country. Worldwide, the Netherlands is a front runner in soil ecological research and by connecting via a national platform, we can keep and further expand this position. On November 14th 2024, the National Centre for Soil Ecology was established. This was celebrated with a kick-off symposium.

  • Geert de Snoo receives the support of Dutch soil ecologists
    Perro de Jong / NIOO-KNAW
    Geert de Snoo (director of NIOO-KNAW), on behalf of NIOO-KNAW and WUR, receives the support of Dutch soil ecologists to transform CSE to NCSE.
  • Group picture of attendees NCSE kick-off symposium.
    Perro de Jong / NIOO-KNAW
    Group picture of attendees NCSE kick-off symposium.



Ciska Veen (NIOO-KNAW)

Wim van der Putten (NIOO-KNAW)

Twitter: @cse_soil

Overview board NCSE

  • Ciska Veen (Netherlands Insitute of Ecology) – chair
  • Wim van der Putten (Netherlands Institute of Ecology)
  • Paolo di Lonardo (Wageningen University)
  • Emilia Hannula (Leiden University)
  • Martijn Bezemer (Leiden University)
  • Franciska de Vries (University of Amsterdam)
  • George Kowalchuk (Utrecht University)
  • Björn Robroek (Radboud University Nijmegen)
  • Joanna Falcao Salles (University of Groningen)
  • Wieland Meyer (Westerdijk Institute)
  • Judith van de Mortel (HAS Green Academy)
  • Emiel Elferink (Van Hall Larenstein)
  • Gera van Os (AERES University of Applied Sciences)