Darwin not only revealed the origin of species in the evolutionary playground of Planet Earth, but also made us aware that the soil fauna actually acts as an engine of ecosystem functioning (Darwin 1881). This message was largely lost on the mainstream ecologists for more than 100 years (out of sight–out of mind?). There was some resurgence in the soil textbooks of the early 1900s. For example, in his landmark book Factors of soil formation, Jenny (1941) recognized ‘organisms’ as one of the soil-forming factors, next to the parent material, climate, topography and time. However, since the 1950s, the importance of the soil biota for ecosystem functioning became obscured in the literature on the suitability of soils for agriculture and other land use purposes. Why? Most likely because the importance of the soil biota for crop root growth, nutrient supply and suppression of harmful organisms was increasingly supplanted by intensive use of external inputs such as machinery, artificial fertilizers and pesticides. In other words, human ingenuity and technology became the focus and driver of productivity, dominant over the role played by nature.