This paper provides a framework to understand the source of the economic value of soil biodiversity and soil ecosystem services and maps out the pathways of such values. We clarify the link between components of the economic value of soil biodiversity and their associated services of particular relevance to soils. We contend that soil biodiversity and associated ecosystem services give rise to two main additive value components in the context of risk and uncertainty: an output value and an insurance value. These are illustrated with examples from soil ecology and a simple heuristic model. The paper also points towards the challenges of capturing such values highlighting the differences between private (individual) and public (global) sources of value. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.