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Vital soil-saving techniques being trialed as International Year of Soils comes to an end

As World Soil Day on 5th December 2015 marked the ending of the International Year of Soils, it is reassuring to know that scientists will still be working to find solutions to protect our soils.

[Translate to English:] Vi er fuldstændig afhængig af dyrkningsjorden. Forskere fra Aarhus Universitet er med til at sikre jordens kvalitet. Foto: Colourbox

2015 was declared International Year of Soils by the United Nations in order to raise awareness of the profound importance of soil for human life[i].  As well as providing us with food and fibre, soils can also play an important role in climate change mitigation by storing carbon and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. This means that soils play a vital role in the current climate change discussions at COP21 in Paris.

As global attention now moves away from soils, scientists working on the EU funded project[ii] RECARE will still be developing solutions to the problems of soil erosion, soil compaction, soil contamination, flooding and landslides, desertification, soil biodiversity loss, decline in organic matter, salinization and soil sealing. The challenges to peoples’ lives and homes are detailed in an international series of documentaries that show how damaging soils can damage lives[iii].

RECARE researchers, including scientists from the Department of Agroecology at Aarhus University and engineers from Agro Intelligence ApS, are working with local stakeholders across Europe in 17 case study areas to put soil saving solutions into practice. Scientifically informed interventions are set to transform the protection of soils and the lives of those affected by them. Examples include grassed waterways, straw mulching or terracing to prevent soil erosion and flooding, the use of intercropping to increase soil organic matter, the planting of particular tree species to remove the toxins from contaminated soils, and different strategies for traffic in the fields for minimizing soil compaction. RECARE has already produced a review of potential measures that can be applied to combat these soil threats.

Senior Researcher Per Schjønning, coordinator of the RECARE Case Study Soil Compaction at Aarhus University in Denmark, explains:


“Compaction of subsoil layers has proven effectively persistent. It affects a range of ecosystem services, including crop yields. The humid climate of the northern European countries implies much traffic in the field at wet conditions, where soil mechanical strength is very low. In combination with international partners, the Danish team is searching solutions enabling field operations without damaging the soil. This includes the development of a decision support tool for minimizing soil compaction: www.terranimo.dk.

Potentials solutions are discussed with Danish stakeholders during workshops. This multi-perspectival approach is an essential aspect of the RECARE project”.


Professor Coen Ritsema, RECARE Project coordinator based at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, says:


“As the International Year of Soils draws to a close, it is good to know that work continues to protect this precious resource.  The project team is committed to ensuring that we are able to provide people with practical, affordable ways in which they can protect our soil resources. The 2015 International Year of Soils has raised awareness of soil’s vital role in all of our lives; now we need to take action”.

RECARE researchers will continue their work to develop effective prevention, remediation and restoration measures in the battle against soil threats until 2018, when the project is due to finish.

Read more about RECARE here.

Twitter:  #Soils #RECARE @RECARE_EU

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/RECARE/


For more information please contact:

Senior Researcher Per Schjønning, RECARE Case Study coordinator, Aarhus University, Denmark, Phone: +45 8715 7725, e-mail: per.schjonning@agro.au.dk

Professor Coen Ritsema, RECARE Project coordinator, Wageningen University, The Netherlands, Phone:  +31 317 48 65 17, e-mail: coen.ritsema@wur.nl