Today is Word Soil Day (5th December), which has been dedicated to the theme “Caring for the planet starts from the ground”.  This theme captures the essence of the EU-funded project, SoilCare, which is identifying ways in which soil quality can be improved through cropping systems and techniques, benefiting both the profitability of farms and the environment.

Farmers already know the central importance of the soil to their business and its future.  However, current crop production levels are often maintained by increased inputs, such as fertilisers, pesticides and technology which can mask losses in production due to reduced soil quality.  Through a series of workshops, farmers and scientists together have shortlisted a number of soil-improving cropping systems to test in 16 study sites across Europe, including the application of different types of organic material, the use of cover crops, amendments and non-tillage systems. By consulting with stakeholders throughout the project, it is hoped that any promising systems or techniques will be quickly adopted by the farming community, leading ultimately to better soil care.

Project co-ordinator Dr Hessel based at Wageningen Environmental Research (Alterra) said:

“The first 18 months of the project have been very productive.  We have conducted an extensive review of soil-improving cropping systems and now a number of practices have been identified for testing and we look forward to learning about their advantages, drawbacks and any barriers to adoption”.

Jane Mills, from the Countryside and Community Research Institute, who is working on SoilCare, said,

“In SoilCare we are working closely with farmers, leading machinery manufacturers and policy-makers to ensure that the science is relevant to them and to society.  We will then need to make sure that farmers, advisers and the agricultural industry know about the results of our research, so there can be a shift towards these soil-improving cropping systems across Europe.”

The term ‘cropping system’ refers to the crops, crop sequences and management techniques used on a particular agricultural field over a period of years. Cropping systems can be considered soil-improving if they result in an improved soil quality, i.e., in a durable increased ability of the soil to fulfil its functions.

Ends

1 – For more details on the project see http://www.soilcare-project.eu

2 – For a media pack, including photographs, please contact Jane Mills. Jmills@glos.ac.uk  +44 1242 714137 @Jane__Mills

3 – Suggested Tweet text

“Caring for a Brown Planet, @SoilCare_eu project works with #farmers to improve cropping systems #Soils, # SoilHealth, #Ag, #WorldSoilDay. The project and collaborators will retweet all tweets mentioning the project @SoilCare_eu.

4 – This project is supported by the EU H2020 programme.

This press release has been sent out by the Countryside and Community Research Institute on behalf of the SoilCare project.

Issued by:

Julie Ryan, Communications Officer

Countryside and Community Research Institute

 

jryan@glos.ac.uk

Our contact is Jane Mills:

Email: jmills@glos.ac.uk

tel : +44 1242 714137