Sustainable Agriculture and Biogeochemistry (SAB) – Agricultura Sostenible y Biogeoquímica


We aim to promote the sustainability of agricultural systems in a context of climate change. Our research lies at the interface of soil biogeochemistry, soil microbial ecology, ecosystem science and agronomy, and combines experimental work in long-term field trials, urban agroecosystems and greenhouses with modeling and global observational datasets.


  • Soil carbon in agricultural and natural ecosystems
  • Ecosystem services in natural, agricultural and urban systems
  • Recycling of organic wastes in agriculture
  • Soil biodiversity, crop microbiome and sustainable agriculture



Soil carbon in agricultural and natural ecosystems

García-Palacios, P., Crowther, T.W., Dacal, M., Hartley, I.P., Reinsch, S., Rinnan, R., Rousk, J., van den Hoogen, J., Ye, J.S. & Bradford, M.A. 2021. Evidence for large microbial-mediated losses of soil carbon under anthropogenic warming. Nature Reviews Earth and Environment 2: 507-517. [pdf]

Panettieri, M., Guigue, J., Chemidlin Prevost-Bouré, N., Thévenot, M., Lévêque, J., Le Guillou, C., Maron, P.A., Santoni, A.L., Ranjard, L., Mounier, S., Menasseri, S., Viaud, V., Mathieu, O., 2020. Grassland-cropland rotation cycles in crop-livestock farming systems regulate priming effect potential in soils through modulation of microbial communities, composition of soil organic matter and abiotic soil properties. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 299, 106973. [pdf]

Panettieri, M., Courtier-Murias, D., Rumpel, C., Dignac, M.-F., Almendros, G., Chabbi, A., 2020. Land-use perturbations in ley grassland decouple the degradation of ancient soil organic matter from the storage of newly derived carbon inputs. SOIL 6 435–451. [pdf]

Plaza, C., Pegoraro, E., Bracho, R., Celis, G., Crummer, K.G., Hutchings, J.A., Hicks Pries, C.E., Mauritz, M., Natali, S.M., Salmon, V.G., Schädel, C., Webb, E.E., Schuur, E.A.G., 2019. Direct observation of permafrost degradation and rapid soil carbon loss in tundra. Nature Geoscience 12, 627-631. [pdf]

Dacal, M., Bradford, M.A., Plaza, C., Maestre, F.T., García-Palacios, P., 2019. Soil microbial respiration adapts to ambient temperature in global drylands. Nature Ecology and Evolution 3, 232-238. [pdf].

Plaza, C., Zaccone, C., Sawicka, K., Méndez, A.M., Tarquis, A., Gascó, G., Heuvelink, G.B.M., Schuur, E.A.G., Maestre, F.T., 2018. Soil resources and element stocks in drylands to face global issues. Scientific Reports 8, 13788. [pdf].

Ecosystem services in natural, agricultural and urban systems

Panettieri, M., Jiménez-González, M.A., Sosa, L.L. De, Almendros, G., Madejón, E. 2021. Chemical diversity and molecular signature of soil humic fractions used as proxies of soil quality under contrasted tillage management. Spanish J. Soil Sci. 11, 39–54. [pdf]

Le Bagousse-Pinguet, Y., Gross, N., Saiz, H., Maestre, F.T., Ruiz, S., Dacal, M., Asensio, S., Ochoa, V., Gozalo, V., Cornelissen, J.H.C., Deschamps, L., García, C., Maire, V., Milla, R., Salinas, N., Wang, J., Singh, B.K., García-Palacios, P. 2021. Functional rarity and evenness are key facets of biodiversity to boost multifunctionality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 118: e2019355118. [pdf].

Moreno-Jiménez, E., Plaza, C., Saiz, H., Manzano, R., Flagmeier, M., Maestre, F.T., 2019. Aridity and reduced soil micronutrient availability in global drylands. Nature Sustainability 2, 371-377. [pdf].

García-Palacios, P., Gross, N., Gaitán, J. & Maestre, F.T. 2018. Climate mediates the biodiversity–ecosystem stability relationship globally. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 115: 8400-8405 [pdf].

Recycling of organic wastes in agriculture

Domínguez, M.T., Panettieri, M., Madejón, E., Madejón, P. 2020. Thistle crops in marginal lands after compost addition: Plant biomass and effect on soil physical, chemical and biological properties. Land Degradation and Development 31 1167-1175. [pdf].

Suárez, L., Benavente-Ferraces, I., Plaza, C., de Pascual-Teresa, S., Suárez-Ruiz, I., Centeno, T.A., 2020. Hydrothermal carbonization as a sustainable strategy for integral valorisation of apple waste. Bioresource Technology 309, 123395.

Giannetta, B., Plaza, C., Siebecker, M.G., Aquilanti, G., Vischetti, C., Plaisier, J.R., Juanco, M., Sparks, D.L., Zaccone, C., 2020. Iron speciation in organic matter fractions isolated from soils amended with biochar and organic fertilizers. Environmental Science and Technology 54, 5093–5101.

Soil biodiversity, crop microbiome and sustainable agriculture

Garland, G., Edlinger, Banerjee, S., Degrune, F., García-Palacios, P., Pescador, D.S., Herzog,, C., Romdhane, S., Saghai, A., Spor, A., Wagg, C., Hallin, S., Maestre, F.T., Philippot, L, Rillig, M.C., van der Heijden, M.G.A. 2021. Crop cover is more important than rotational diversity for soil multifunctionality and cereal yields in European cropping systems. Nature Food 2: 28-37. [pdf].

Delgado-Baquerizo, M., Eldridge, D.J., Liu, Y.-R., Sokoya, B., Wang, J.-T., Hu, H.-W. He, J.-Z., Bastida, F., Moreno, J.L., Bamigboye, A.R., Blanco-Pastor, J.L., Cano-Diáz, C., Illán, J.G., Makhalanyane, T.P., Siebe, C., Trivedi, P., Zaady, E., Verma, J.P., Wang, L., Wang, J., Grebenc, T., Peñaloza-Bojacá, G.F., Nahberger, T.U., Teixido, A.L., Zhou, X.-Q., Berdugo, M., Duran, J., Rodríguez, A., Zhou, X., Alfaro, F., Abades, S., Plaza, C., Rey, A., Singh, B.K., Tedersoo, L., Fierer, N., 2021. Global homogenization of the structure and function in the soil microbiome of urban greenspaces. Science Advances 7, eabg5809.

Panettieri, M., de Sosa, L.L., Domínguez, M.T., Madejón, E., 2020. Long-term impacts of conservation tillage on Mediterranean agricultural soils: shifts in microbial communities despite limited effects on chemical properties. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 304, 107144. [pdf]

Ye, J.S., Bradford, M.A., Maestre, F.T, Li, F.M., García-Palacios, P. 2020. Compensatory thermal adaptation of soil microbial respiration rates in global croplands. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 34: e2019GB006507. [pdf].

Funded projects

Vulnerability of soil organic carbon in global drylands to climate change and desertification (VULCOCLIM, PID2020-116578RB-I00). Proyectos I+D+i Retos Investigación, Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. 09/2021 – 09/2025. 200.013 €. PIs: César Plaza, Fernando T. Maestre (UA).

Harnessing the dual role of soil organic matter in crop production and climate change mitigation (DUALSOM, PID2020-113021RA-I00). Proyectos I+D+i Retos Investigación, Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. 09/2021 – 09/2024. 127.050 €. PI: Pablo García Palacios.

Transforming unsustainable management of soils in key agricultural systems in EU and China. Developing an integrated platform of alternatives to reverse soil degradation (TUdi, 101000224). Horizon 2020, European Union. 01/07/2021 – 30/06/2025. 4.978.253,75 € (ICA budget 351.188,56 €). Coordinator: José. Alfonso Gómez (IAS-CSIC); ICA PI: César Plaza.

Economía circular e hidrosostenibilidad para la agricultura en ecosistemas vulnerables de regiones andinas y mediterráneas

Circular economy and hydrological sustainability in vulnerable agroecosystems from Andean and Mediterranean regions

(INCGLO0013). CSIC LINCGLOBAL. 07/2021 – 12/2023. 30.000 €. PIs: Engracia Madejón (IRNAS-CSIC), Marco Panettieri.

Evaluation of agronomical performances and ecosystem services provided by co-composted biochar substrates used for productive green roofs in central Madrid (MadreenRoof, 2019-T1/AMB-14503). Prorgrama Atracción de Talento (Doctores con Experiencia), Comunidad de Madrid. 04/2020 – 03/2024. 189.900 €. PI: Marco Panettieri.

Ramón y Cajal (RYC2018-024766-I). Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. 01/2020 –01/2025. 40.000 €. PI: Pablo García Palacios.

Deciphering the microbial origins of agriculture (MICROAGRO). Beca Leonardo Fundación BBVA. 01/2020 – 06/2021. 39.856 €. PI: Pablo García Palacios.

Understanding water interactions with organic components in wood, wood-derived biochar and biochar-amended soils at a molecular level (2018FR0044). International Projects for Cooperation Scientific, PICS 2018. CSIC and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. 06/2019 – 05/2022. 40.000 €. PIs: César Plaza, Denis Courtier-Murias (CNRS, France).


Agronomical value and sustainability of composted coffee silver skin as organic amendment and substrate for agricultre. Café Candelas SL 20/01/2021-31/05/2021. PI: Marco Panettieri 1800 €.
Physical fractionation of organic matter from agricultural soils (20201790). University of Foggia (Italy). 29/04/2020 – 12/06/2020. 5.000,00 €. PI: César Plaza