5th December, is World Soil Day – the one day in the year that the United Nations asks us all to think about the role of soil in our daily lives. 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.
Good soil management also helps to protect us from many environmental problems. If we look to the problems of food supply, flooding, and climate change, many of the answers lie in the soil. This fragile crust of soil is complex and still mysterious, but every year scientific research reveals more about its importance to supporting our lives on earth.
CCRI’s soil experts, Jane Mills and Julie Ingram, participated in the EU ‘Soil stakeholders’ conference’ in Brussels, which is a contribution of the European Commission to World Soil Day 2016.
The CCRI has been collaborating on two major EU funded projects to investigate how soil quality can be improved.
SoilCare is investigating ways in which soil quality can be improved through cropping systems and techniques, benefiting both the profitability of farms and the environment. Such soil improvement is necessary to break the negative spiral of soil degradation, increased inputs, increased costs and damage to the environment.
This project brings scientists from 16 countries across Europe together to work on trial plots where cropping systems will be tested to find out how improving the soil can boost and sustain productivity. Working on 16 trials across Europe that represent not only different climatic conditions but soil types and crop types, the project is looking to solutions that can be easily adopted by farmers across Europe. The University of Gloucestershire, Newcastle University and the Game and Wildlife Conversation Trust are all involved from the UK.
For the other project, RECARE, test plots across Europe are being used to find practical solutions to soil-based problems as diverse as the impacts of wildfire on soil erosion to how to reclaim the soil from the deserts created by arctic winds in Iceland. Through to cleaning up polluted soils in Romania and Spain and through planting trees and using plants to mop up toxic metals. The project has now reached its mid-point.
Media Releases for the SoilCare and RECARE projects were released on 5th December.Download SoilCare Media Release for World Soil Day 2016 Download RECARE Media Release for World Soil Day 2016