Background/Question/Methods Soil management is a fundamental part of practicing agriculture, yet much of the world’s agricultural land is experiencing rapid degradation. Given that soils often reflect changes occurring over long periods of time, this degradation can be attributed to human processes like colonialism and industrialization, along with perspectives of rapid extraction, dominance over land, and soil as a static resource, with properties always in equilibrium. However, emerging ideas about common principles that unify other complex systems, agro-ecosystems, and separate facets of soil science emphasize several themes that offer opportunities for more generalized understanding. This synthesis asks broadly: how are soil functions a result of highly-connected biological and social processes? Studies and concepts from agroecology, theoretical ecology, and soil science are reviewed and synthesized into a perspective on areas for more work that can help improve the robustness of soil management. Results/Conclusions Several key aspects of how soils function are notable for their alignment with and emphasis on complex behavior and context-specific interactions, namely: 1) mineral interactions, 2) aggregate dynamics, 3) wet-dry cycles, 4) multi-year gas fluxes and nutrient compartmentalization, 5) microbial community interactions, 6) land use history, and 7) farmer interactions/cooperation. Each aspect contributes useful analyses and metrics that are integral to how soils work, and thus how they could ideally be managed. Together, they range from micro-scale to multi-farm scale processes, and help incorporate some of the uncertainty in research and decision-making that is involved in studying soils from an agroecological lens. Furthermore, while many previous studies focus on soil mineralogy and chemistry related to industrial interventions, interesting future work could highlight the role of farmer-farmer relations and cooperation on sustainable regional soil management, centering processes available to smaller-scale farmers in cities and the tropics.