Human security has and will continue to rely on Earth's diverse soil resources. Yet we have now exploited the planet's most productive soils. Soil erosion greatly exceeds rates of production in many agricultural regions. Nitrogen produced by fossil fuel and geological reservoirs of other fertilizers are headed toward possible scarcity, increased cost, and/or geopolitical conflict. Climate change is accelerating the microbial release of greenhouse gases from soil organic matter and will likely play a large role in our near-term climate future. In this Review, we highlight challenges facing Earth's soil resources in the coming century. The direct and indirect response of soils to past and future human activities will play a major role in human prosperity and survival.