SOIL matters

The EJP SOIL programme is timely and urgent

We do not always remember the importance of soil, but actually, our lives depend on it. Soil is the habitat and the supplier of nutrients and water for plants and their roots.

Fertile and productive soils are literally the foundation of our existence, as they are the prerequisite for a stable supply of food, fibre, animal feed, timber and other biomasses.

Sustaining soil functions

Soils sustain huge biodiversity and contribute to the provision of a wide range of ecosystem services, and as the largest store of carbon on land, soils are also in the nexus of the global climate challenges. Soils are part of the solution to realising the SDGs.

However, soil is a limited resource, and soil degradation including erosion, loss of soil organic matter, soil contamination and soil sealing are threats to soil functions. Intensified production due to rising global demand for food and biomass will only amplify the challenges.

Through sustainable soil management, it is possible to preserve and even enhance the provision of ecosystem services by soil and biodiversity. Soil management can also be climate smart, contributing to mitigate climate change by carbon storage and to adapt agroecosystems to changing climate.

Climate smart sustainable soil management is the adequate response to these key societal challenges.

Both the European Environmental Action Programme, FAO and other international initiatives are calling for increased knowledge on sustainable soil management and the protection of soils functions. 

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges 

Climate change projections predict major environmental changes for Europe, which will increase the probability of erosion and landslides, and potentially increase nutrients leaching in northern areas, while exposing other Mediterranean areas to periods of drought and heat waves and increased wind erosion. These changes require European agriculture to adapt to these changes and become more resilient to extreme events.  

National and local knowledge as well as farming practices are fundamental to dealing with these challenges. Hence, actions in stopping the damages are highly dependent on societal, scientific, policy, economic and educational capacities.