Julie Ingram, Jane Mills, Matt Reed, and Charlotte Chivers of the CCRI were recently involved in delivering two sessions at Eurosoil 2021. In the first session, the findings of the SoilCare project were presented and discussed. The second session provided an opportunity to discuss several novel approaches and methods for engaging with stakeholders.


Session 1: CAN CROP PRODUCTION IN EUROPE BE SUSTAINABLE AND PROFITABLE? INSIGHTS FROM THE SOILCARE PROJECT
Date: Thursday 26 August
Time: 09:45-10:15 CET

Convenors
Rudi Hessel, Wageningen Environmental Research
Julie Ingram, Jane Mills, Matt Reed, Charlotte Chivers, CCRI, University of Gloucestershire

Aims
European crop production needs to remain competitive while reducing environmental impacts, requiring the uptake of effective soil-improving cropping systems (SICS). This session allowed delegates to learn about and engage with the SoilCare project, which has identified and evaluated promising SICS that have the potential to increase the profitability and sustainability of arable agriculture across Europe. The session showcased the trans-disciplinary research carried out by SoilCare, which has evaluated the benefits and drawbacks of different SICS, incorporating a wide range of biophysical, socio-economic and policy aspects. A multi-actor approach was used to select and test SICS in 16 study sites across Europe. Specific attention was paid to the adoption of SICS. The SoilCare project started in March 2016, and this session presented the results to date, soliciting feedback from the audience & discussing key topics such as the role of national versus EU policy in promoting soil health, barriers and enablers to the adoption of soil-improving cropping systems, innovations that could improve soil health, and implications for profitability and sustainability as well as for policy and practice. We had quick-fire presentations and videos of the emerging results from the SoilCare project, followed by a role-play fishbowl with people representing policymakers/farmers/advisers/scientists primed to discuss the effectiveness of soil-improving cropping systems, barriers to the adoption of sustainable land management technologies and approaches, and factors to support adoption/adaptation/learning. We also had a free chair to encourage the audience to participate and ask questions.

Not sure what soil-improving cropping systems (SICS) are? Watch our two-minute explainer:

What are Soil-improving cropping systems?

Speakers

  • Melanie Muro, Milieu Consulting: Barriers to the use of Soil-Improving Cropping Systems. What we learned and how this helps us define policy actions.
  • Rudi Hessel, Wageningen Environmental Research: SoilCare for profitable and sustainable crop production in Europe
  • Guido Wyseure, KU Leuven: Results of the SoilCare experiments
  • Luuk Fleskens, Wageningen University: The integrated assessment model used in SoilCare
  • Ioanna Panagea, KU Leuven: Further results from the SoilCare experiments
  • Jantiene Baartman, Wageningen University: The integrated assessment model used in SoilCare

Session 2: NOVEL APPROACHES AND METHODS FOR ENGAGING WITH STAKEHOLDERS: ADDRESSING SOIL FUNCTIONS RELEVANT TO SDG2
Date: Thursday 26 August
Time: 14:15 – 15:45 CET

Convenors
Julie Ingram, Jane Mills, Charlotte Chivers, CCRI, University of Gloucestershire
Lilian O’Sullivan, TEAGASC, Environment, Soils and Land Use Department, Ireland

Aims

The need for such participation in research concerning soil management is increasingly evident, given the scope and complexity of soil processes, the multiplicity of actors who manage or make decisions about the soil, and the fragmented policy, research and advisory approaches concerned with managing soil functions (synergies and trade-offs) in agricultural systems.  This session aimed to share and reflect on experiences with multi-stakeholder participation, co-production of knowledge, and co-innovation for sustainable soil management in the agricultural context.  Specifically, we wanted to:

  • Draw on and share our collective experiences with participatory approaches in working with stakeholders in several soil research projects
  • Build capacity in the research community for carrying out participatory research to equip them to meet future research challenges with soil management in the context of SDG2

We also held a Methods Market with the following presenters:

  • The Catchment Challenge – landscape co-design for soil functions, Lilian O’Sullivan, Teagasc, Ireland
  • Farmland earthworm monitoring (30-minute worms), Jackie Stroud, SRUC, Scotland 
  • Participatory video making, Patricia Fry, BFH, Switzerland
  • Using deliberative multi-criteria techniques with stakeholders to select soil-improving cropping systems, Kamilla Skaalsveen, NIBIO, Norway

If you were a Eurosoil delegate, you can catch up on these two sessions here.

Want to learn more about SoilCare?

You can access several resources via the website, including policy briefs, summaries and reports, experiment factsheets, and soil-improving guides.