Raising awareness on soil health living labs

This video has been made within the H2020 project Soil Mission Support.

Soil health living labs are becoming increasingly popular in Europe as a way to promote sustainable farming practices and improve soil health. These labs are designed to be a collaboration of farmers, researchers, and other stakeholders, with the goal of sharing information and best practices for improving soil health with the broader agricultural community. The focus of these labs is typically on the use of cover crops, reduced tillage, and other conservation practices that help build soil organic matter and improve soil structure, water-holding capacity, and nutrient cycling. These practices have been shown to increase crop yields, reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers, and improve water quality.

Our workshop on soil health living labs

SOILdarity is currently working to raise awareness on the preliminary steps the project partners have taken for the development of a living lab in Alentejo, a geographical, historical, and cultural region of south–central and southern Portugal. 

The SOILdarity workshop ‘A living lab for a just transition to sustainable food production systems based on soil health and ecosystem services‘, which took place on 17th January 2023, has been set up to establish new connections and consolidate the collaborations with a group of relevant Portuguese and European stakeholders representing different categories (academia, business, civil society, policy) with the final aim to discuss the application of the concept of living lab in the Alentejo region. 

SOILdarity’s consortium members representing FC.ID, UGENT, EUKNOW.

The objectives

One of our main goals was to show what has already been done in Portugal and Europe, which challenges need to be addressed, which successful practices and methodologies can be transferred from more mature living lab experiences to Alentejo. The resulting interaction between the participants provides key insights on common understandings, problems and difficulties that living labs are facing in the development process and produced a lively debate on possible solutions to make this initiative sustainable in the long term. The workshop focused on a specific topic relevant to the attendees and their industries, with presentations and group exercises designed to encourage collaboration and idea-sharing.

Presentations

Despite the chilly weather outside, the atmosphere in the room was warm and productive as the participants actively engaged in the activities and shared their own experiences and insights. Here, we gathered the presentations by the partners and experts who spoke at the workshop. You can freely download them if you are interested in knowing more.

Introduction to “A Living Lab for a Just Transition to Sustainable Food Production
Systems based on Soil Health and Ecosystem Services”
The path from SOILdarity to soil related sustainable development and the need for a Living Lab in Alentejo
A Living Lab in Alentejo : the regional context, strengths, needs and expectations
Soil Health Living Labs and the Soil Mission projects

4. Giulia Campodonico_ENoLL_Soil Health Living Labs and the Soil Mission projects

Living Labs in the H2020 DESIRA project

5. Manlio Bacco_Living Labs in DESIRA

Farming Systems Unit: Lighthouse farms and living labs to explore wicked problems, an example
Advances in soil and land health monitoring and a new soil health coalition

7. Leigh Ann Winowiecki et al_Advances in soil and land health monitoring

Economic Sustainability through Living Labs

8. Tayfun Bahsi_Economic Sustainability through Living Labs

Agenda of awareness-raising event, 17 January 2023.

Output

As the morning progressed, the group took a break to enjoy a tasty coffee break together, allowing them to continue conversations and build connections with one another. After lunch, the workshop resumed with more hands-on exercises and a final presentation summarizing the key takeaways from the day. By the end of the workshop, the attendees left feeling energized, having gained valuable knowledge and connections that they could apply to their work. The sunny but chilly morning in Brussels had been well-spent, and the group was already looking forward to the next opportunity to come together and learn.

Results of the Note&Vote exercise 2 on Miro.
Results of the Note&Vote exercise 1 on Miro.

Programme | (CET, Brussels time)

1st Part | 9:30 – 11:00

9:30 – 9:40 | Gabriele QuattrocchiEuknow project advisor – “Welcome and introduction to SOILdarity”

9:40 – 09:55 | Cristina CruzProfessor in Plant Biology at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon – “The path from SOILdarity to soil related sustainable development and the need for a Living Lab in Alentejo”

09:55 – 10:10 | Ana Maria VenturaFaculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon – “A Living Lab in Alentejo: strengths, needs and the regional context.”

10:10 – 10:25 | Marcos NogueiraH2020-AURORAL coordinator – “Rural is Europe’s new frontier. Healthy soil is the most critical dimension for making it sustainable. H2020-AURORAL tools enable the use of digital tools for supporting intelligent territorial management in rural areas.”

10:25 – 10:50 | Note & Vote: How to engage the farming community and society?

10:50 – 11:00 | Coffee Break

2nd Part | 11:00 – 13:00

11:00 – 11:15 | Giulia CampodonicoEuropean Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) – “Soil Health Living Labs and what NATI00NS project will do to support them”

11:15 – 11:30 | Manlio Bacco, PhD – Institute of Information Science and Technologies (ISTI), National Research Council (CNR) –   “Living Labs in the H2020 DESIRA project”

11:30 – 11:45 | Didier Stilmant, head of the ‘Sustainability, systems and prospectives’ department at CRA-W – “Lighthouse farms and living labs to explore wicked problem, an example”

11:45 – 12:00 | Leigh Ann Winowiecki, PhD – Global Research Lead for Soil and Land Health at Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF)– “Advances in monitoring and tracking soil health and building coalitions to scale soil health globally”

12:00 – 12:20 | Note & Vote: How to make Living Labs economically sustainable when public funds end?

12:20 – 12:35 | Tayfun Bahsi – 17 Sustainable Services –  “The importance of financial security and peer-to-peer learning and how it can be linked with business cases which can support “living labs” approach”

12:35 – 12:45 | Giuseppe Saija – EUKNOW Director – “Mission soil, an overview of the next round of calls for proposals”

Two SOILdarity webinars are better than one

Are you interested in learning more about soil monitoring and reforestation? Then mark your calendars for January 26th and 27th, and join us for our informative webinar series on these important topics.

WEBINAR – 26 January 2023

Soil monitoring

On January 26th, we will delve into the latest techniques and technologies for monitoring soil health. From remote sensing to in-situ measurements, we will cover the various methods for measuring key soil properties such as moisture content, nutrient levels, and organic matter. We will also discuss the importance of soil monitoring and its role in sustainable land management.

WEBINAR – 27 January 2023

Reforestation

On January 27th, we will focus on reforestation and the various strategies for restoring our forests. We will discuss the benefits of reforestation, including carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, and soil health improvement. We will also cover the different approaches to reforestation, such as natural regeneration and plantation establishment, and the challenges and opportunities involved in each.

Two SOILdarity webinars on Soil Monitoring and Reforestation on 26-27 January 2023.

These webinars will be led by experts in the field and will include interactive Q&A sessions, allowing you to ask questions and engage with the speakers. Don’t miss this opportunity to expand your knowledge and contribute to the conservation of our precious natural resources. Take a look at the content of each webinar and who will be there!

Webinar 1 – Soil Monitoring in Europe and beyond

Programme 26 January 2023 | (GMT+1, Lisbon time)

11:00 – 11:05Prof. Iggy Litaor – Introductory remarks

11:05 – 11:50  | Prof. Tomas Reznik, Kotlarska – Geospatial Modelling in Precision Agriculture: Satellite-based Predictions in Light of a Decade of Second-by-second Yield Measurements

11:50 – 12:35  | Prof.  Pinchas Fine – Environmentally safe disposal of dairy/domestic wastewater via irrigation of reconstructed mixed forest – forage formation

12:35 – 12:50  | Coffee Break 

12:50 – 13:35  | Prof.  Yael Laor –  Monitoring and archiving challenges at the Model Farm for Sustainable Agriculture, Newe Ya’ar Research Center

13:35 – 14:10  | Prof. Iggy Litaor – Alpine Ecosystem Response to Climate Warming: Long-Term Monitoring Data of Lakes, soils and Streams Chemistries Revisited

14:10 – 14:30 | Discussion

Webinar 2 – Reforestation: a technique to promote soil health

Programme 27 January 2023 | (GMT+1, Lisbon time)

11:00 – 11:05  | Cristina Cruz – Introductory remarks

11:05 – 11:35  | Conceição Silva (Mediterranean Forest Union – INAC) – The Mediterranean forest and the “Montado”

11:35 – 12:00  | Teresa Dias (cE3c) – Arbuscular mycorrhizal traits are good indicators of soil multifunctionality in drylands.

12: 00 – 12:05 | Coffee Break 

12:05 – 12:30  | Florian Ulm (cE3c) – Reforest: an example on how to build soil

12:30 – 13:00 | Sergio Fabres (The Navigator Company/Ana Quintela) – Eucalypt plantations and soil health

13:00 | End of works

SOILdarity at the Confederation of Portuguese Farmers

SOILdarity researchers from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon have taken part in and contributed to a workshop on soils with Portuguese farmers and advisors. The event took place at the Confederation of the Portuguese Farmers – CAP – on 5 December 2022. What a great way to celebrate the World Soil Day!

During the event, Ana Paula Rosa, a PhD student at the University of Lisbon, holds a practical class on circular soil chromatography, a tool for farmers to have an integrated view of the soil properties.

Soil as a hotspot of biodiversity.

The workshop was also an occasion for the project coordinator, Prof. Cristina Cruz, to provide some insight on the research team’s activities and spotlight soil as a hotspot of biodiversity and a life supporting system.

A module of the event was also dedicated by Dr. Teresa Dias to soil ecology and ecosystem services, who opened a general discussion on how to implement the compensation to farmers based on ecosystem services.

The workshop was a great opportunity for the project team, which was able to graps the main interests and needs of the audience. How to use the knowldge of soil ecology to better implement the ambitions of the Green Deal, the new CAP and the strategy for biodiversity were the most debated issues. The discussion was very lively and focused on the fragilities of the Portuguese Pepac.

The ideas and insights that have been collected during the event will be processed to provide input to the SOILdarity workshop that will take place on 17 January 2023. You cannot miss it!

SOILdarity Workshop on Soil Health Living Labs

About 95% of what we eat comes from soil. It sounds quite obvious but we too often neglect the relation that exists between food and farmland. There has been a deep separation in recent decades between food and the environments in which it is produced. To reiterate that food begins with soil and that its management plays a key role in food security, the overarching theme of the World Soil Day 2022, held on December 5, is: ‘Soils, Where Food Begins’.

On this very special day, SOILdarity has announced an upcoming project event dedicated to raise awareness on the relation between soil health and the transition to sustainable food production systems.

The workshop A living lab for a just transition to a sustainable food production system based on soil health and ecosystem services will take place on 17th January 2023 in Brussels in a hybrid format.

The workshop

The workshop will offer the chance to raise awareness on the preliminary steps the project consortium has taken for the development of a living lab in Alentejo region (Portugal) which will outlive the project itself.

One of our main goals is to map what has already been done in Portugal and Europe, which challenges need to be addressed, which successful practices and methodologies can be transferred from more mature living lab experiences to Alentejo, discuss opportunities for funding and for collaboration with European partners which are part of the SOILdarity network. This interaction will provide key insights on common understandings, problems and difficulties that living labs are facing in the development process. Hence, we want to debate possible solutions to make this initiative sustainable in the long term.

Programme | (CET, Brussels time)

1st Part | 9:30 – 11:00

9:30 – 9:40 | Gabriele QuattrocchiEuknow project advisor – “Welcome and introduction to SOILdarity”

9:40 – 09:55 | Cristina CruzProfessor in Plant Biology at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon – “The path from SOILdarity to soil related sustainable development and the need for a Living Lab in Alentejo”

09:55 – 10:10 | Ana Maria VenturaFaculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon – “A Living Lab in Alentejo: strengths, needs and the regional context.”

10:10 – 10:25 | Marcos NogueiraH2020-AURORAL coordinator – “Rural is Europe’s new frontier. Healthy soil is the most critical dimension for making it sustainable. H2020-AURORAL tools enable the use of digital tools for supporting intelligent territorial management in rural areas.”

10:25 – 10:50 | Note & Vote: How to engage the farming community and society?

10:50 – 11:00 | Coffee Break

2nd Part | 11:00 – 13:00

11:00 – 11:15 | Giulia CampodonicoEuropean Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) – “Soil Health Living Labs and what NATI00NS project will do to support them”

11:15 – 11:30 | Manlio Bacco, PhD – Institute of Information Science and Technologies (ISTI), National Research Council (CNR) –   “Living Labs in the H2020 DESIRA project”

11:30 – 11:45 | Didier Stilmant, head of the ‘Sustainability, systems and prospectives’ department at CRA-W – “Lighthouse farms and living labs to explore wicked problem, an example”

11:45 – 12:00 | Leigh Ann Winowiecki, PhD – Global Research Lead for Soil and Land Health at Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF)– “Advances in monitoring and tracking soil health and building coalitions to scale soil health globally”

12:00 – 12:20 | Note & Vote: How to make Living Labs economically sustainable when public funds end?

12:20 – 12:35 | Tayfun Bahsi – 17 Sustainable Services –  “The importance of financial security and peer-to-peer learning and how it can be linked with business cases which can support “living labs” approach”

12:35 – 12:45 | Giuseppe Saija – EUKNOW Director – “Mission soil, an overview of the next round of calls for proposals”

How to register

You can participate in the event either vitually or in person. Select the most suitable solution for you here below and click to get further information.

DEADLINE for registering: January 6 for participating in person, but places are limited, so hurry up! Due to the nature of the event, the places in the virtual room will be also limited.

SOILdarity, what is going on?

SOILdarity is a H2020 twinning project aiming to boost the capacities of researchers in soil and agricultural sciences to deliver impact to society at large. The project is currently building up new opportunities for collaborations in research and innovation activities to deliver concrete results that can be adopted at territorial level to maintain or restore soil health in the regional food production systems. The project shares the objectives of the European Green Deal and sustains the momentum of the Mission “A Soil Deal for Europe”, which aims to pioneer, showcase, and accelerate the transition to healthy soils by 2030, supporting the long-term commitments towards the creation of 100 Living Labs (LLs) and Lighthouses.


The project is coordinated by the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes – cE3c through the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon (Portugal), having as partners the Migal InstituteUniversity of Gent and euknow (BE).

Soils, where food begins

5 December 2022 is World Soil Day. This year the main them is the connection between soils and what we eat. #Soils4nutrition

Soil nutrient loss is a major soil degradation processes threatening nutrition and is recognized as being among the most important problems at a global level for food security and sustainability all around the globe.

The video aims to raise awareness on the risks associated with soil nutrient imbalance and soil fertility loss while highlighting the role of soil fertility in producing sufficient, safe, and more nourishing food for healthier plants, animals, and people.

World Soil Day 2022 (#WorldSoilDay) and its campaign “Soils: Where food begins” aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, increasing soil awareness and encouraging societies to improve soil health.

“Healthy soils can significantly contribute to ending hunger and creating a healthy planet, but only if we address soil global threats, including nutrient imbalance,” Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), told the opening of the Global Symposium on Soils for Nutrition.

Yes, exactly! The theme of World Soil Day 2022 comes The Global Symposium on Soils for Nutrition –  “Soils, where food begins,” that was held in a virtual format from 26 to 29 July 2022. The Symposium brought science and policy together to review the status and challenges of soil fertility in relation with crop, animal and human nutrition.

Humans, like plants, and animals, need sufficient food to survive. But food must be safe and nutritious not only to provide energy and basic nutrients, but also to prevent disease and the intake of harmful toxins. About 95 percent of our food comes from soils, which have a natural capacity to support plant growth by providing them with nutrients through the soil solution.

Soil Ecology in Dry Ecosystems – SOILdarity Intensive Training Course

The third SOILdarity specialised training course is getting started!

The objective of the course is to offer the participants the chance to acquire fundamental understanding of the soil ecology characteristics of the dry ecosystems and be able to identify soil as a regenerative element of ecological sustainability. In doing so, the course will strengthen the capacities of the attendees in recognising and using biological indicators of soil health.


The course is totally free of charge but
places are limited, so hurry up! Registration is open until 10 November 2022, 23:59 (Portugal Time).


The Content of the Course

MIGAL (Israel) will lead the theoretical and practical sessions of the course that will take place in a hybrid format (both online and in-person) at the Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa (Lisbon) from 14 to 25 of November 2022. The course will be held in English.

The objective

The objective of the course is to train primarily early stage researchers, MSc students and scientists of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon and then farmers and technicians engaged in soil ecology and soil ecosystem services. This aims at increasing the resilience of territories and soils against the challenges posed by climate change.

When & Where

14-25 November 2022

Zoom online platform and Faculdade de Ciências- Universidade de Lisboa

How to participate

Would you like to participate or receive more information on the course?

Nothing more simple!

You can click here below

or copy and paste this https://forms.gle/FQDbbZzLiBZxi4Gk6 into your web browser.

If you’d like to receive more information, you can email us at

amventura[at]fc.ul.pt | Ana Maria Ventura (FCUL)

or

ccruz[at]fc.ul.pt | Prof. Cristina Cruz (FCUL)

Here below you find the theoretical content of the course.


Theoretical content
  • Systems Biology in Ecology & Agriculture.
  • The S cycle in the rhizosphere. Adding perspectives and new players.
  • Entomopathogenic fungi for the control of below and above ground soil pests.
  • Transcriptomic-metabolomic profiling of soil fungi for soil health determination.
  • Drivers of microbiome predator communities in soils and the resulting  change in their function.
  • Soil predatory mites as bio-control agents and members of the soil food web.
  • Resistance–recovery trade-off of soil microbial communities under altered rain regimes: An experimental test across European agro-ecosystems.
  • Effects of fertilizers and root stock on above ground pests.
  • Effects of beneficial endophytic fungi on above ground pests.
  • Soil microbes and invasive plant species.

The implementation of the course contributes to fulfil the task 2.1 of the project SOILdarity “Specialized training on water management, plant-soil interactions, alternative fertilizers, specifically the module “Soil ecology in dry ecosystems”.

Put your hands in the dirt – online workshop on how to communicate soil science to kids

You are never too young to discover soils! Soil care and health are two intertwined key concepts, which nowadays are even more central and imperative as it is no mystery that the ecological transition implies the implemetation of a set of wide-ranging strategies. The young generations, in this sense, are called upon to make an extra effort that should be fuelled by a full awareness. This should raise from a very early age, starting from basic education.

SOILdarity is supporting the online workshop Put your hands in the dirt – Communicate soil science to children which is organised by the project MED-N-CHANGE to collect information about experiences in soil science communication to youngsters. The workshop participants will take up an analysis based on the results of different initiatives. They will produce guidelines (from general recommendations to description of activities, to be defined based on the material we have) for scientists on how to maximize their success of science communication efforts.


The course is totally free of charge !


When & Where

12 October 2022

Zoom Online Platform

How to participate

Would you like to participate? Nothing more simple!

Just click on the green button

or copy and paste this https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_X5waOhR_REqjKqekTkzE9Q

into your web browser.


Programme | (2 hours, Brussels time)

10:00-10:10 CEST – Introduction

10:10-11:30 CEST – Presentations

  1. Maria Amélia Martins-Loução from the University of Lisbon (Portugal): “Why is dirty soil interesting?”
  2. Cristina Cruz from University of Lisbon (Portugal): “I have a mission, I am a soil steward!”
  3. Apolline Auclerc from the Univerisity of Lorraine – INRAE: “Sharing knowledge on soil invertebrates with the Jardibiodiv tool”
  4. Alberto Orgiazzi from Joint Research Centre (Italy): “Need for a soil culture, an EU perspective”
  5. Francois-Xavier from University of Stirling, Scotland (UK): “Communication concepts of soil ecology to the general public and children”
  6. Pierre Ganault from the German center for integrative biodiversity research (Germany): “Participatory action research in schools to study and protect soils”
  7. Willy Xylander from Senckenberg research institute Gorlitz (Germany): “Digital media opening an inmersive view into the soil – VR and holograms presenting soil biodiversity”
  8. Lourdes Morillas from University of Seville (Spain): “A learning videogame to raise awareness on soil biodiversity”

11:30-12:00 – Presentation and co-design of the questionnaire to collect data for the publication resulting from the workshop.

SOILdarity – Summer School

School period: 19/09/2022 – 23/09/2022

Free registration: https://forms.gle/eNmrtaNQCinkHNfA8

Location: Lisbon, Portugal


The Soildarity Summer School is organized as an intensive course of 1 full week and targets young researchers and MSc graduate students from the University of Lisbon.

The course also involves external attendees with professional links and interest in the subject.

All the participants will have the chance to interact and share experiences during the activities with high-level experts on the subject (see program).

This is a great opportunity to share and practice their research and/or technical skills with their peers. Lectures related to precision agriculture cover the following topics: philosophy of precision agriculture: proximal soil sensing, proximal crop sensing, remote sensing, geostatistics, variable rate technologies, and socio-economic and environmental benefits of precision agriculture. There will be theoretical lectures and field demonstrations of the different sensing, modeling, and control technologies. The learning material for most lectures will be available online for all attendees.

No participation fees are required but registration is mandatory.

Please register at the following link: https://forms.gle/eNmrtaNQCinkHNfA8

SOILdarity at the EIP-AGRI Brokerage event

We were among the 80 selected participants attending the Brokerage Event organised by the EIP-AGRI on 8-9 June 2022. The focus of the event was the EU Mission: A Soil Deal for Europe.

It was a good opportunity to exchange views and ideas with experts and peer projects and do it in person.

We had the chance to go through the open topics on the EU Mission Soil, funded by Horizon Europe and engage in group discussions on the concept and implementation of living labs and lighthouses in the context of the EU Soil Mission.

Besides, we visited the fields of Praktijkpunt Landbouw Vlaams-Brabant (Practice Center for Agriculture in the Flemish Brabant), a governmental agency responsible for practice-oriented agricultural research.

This event offered matchmaking sessions through face-to-face meetings and networking amongst farmers, advisors, researchers, and other relevant stakeholders to support the preparation of proposals for the EU Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’ call that was launched in May 2022.

Additionally, the activity created conditions for exchanging knowledge and innovative ideas and practices (living labs and lighthouses), that may inspire potential applicants to take part in the next EU Mission call.

We are sure it won’t be long until we will start seeing collaborations thriving!

Research excellence training programme on how to write scientific papers

Writing an effective scientific paper is not easy. Scientific writing and publication imply communicating the results of a researcher’s work. Effective scientific dissemination and communication is an important component of a researcher’s practice, and should be cultivated at an early stage of the career.

The aim of this course is to guide young researchers of FC.ID and CIÊNCIAS through all stages of the publication process, allowing them to plan their writing and publication methods, and ultimately improve their publication record, which is essential for their academic career, with much greater care. It offers a guide through all principles of publication, using a broad variety of tools and principles that can be used to take control of one’s publication strategies. This allows PhD students and young scientists to take off on a flying start: knowledge and skills that would otherwise be the result of a long process of trial and error are now ready-at-hand for them to use at the very beginnings of their scholarly career.

Programme |


8th June 2022 |

Instructor: Dr. Froeyman (UGENT)

Introduction and instruction; Theoretical course (recorded session)

  • How to pick a journal
  • How to write a paper
  • How to write an abstract
  • Paper written, what now
  • Paper published, what now
  • PhD papers & monograph
  • How to publish books
14th–15th June 2022 |

Instructor: Dr. Froeyman (UGENT)

Individual zoom session with Dr. Froeyman:

  • Theoretical content will be applied in the individual zoom-session.

Assignments to be carried out over 8–14 June:

  • Students will apply the learned method to their own paper based on the relevant activities
  • Students work on their own and each other’s abstracts
16th June 2022 |

Instructor: Prof. Mouazen and Dr. Munnaf (UGENT), Prof. Litaor (MIGAL)

Theoretical lectures

  • Preparation of figures & tables
  • Elements of statistics & methodology of scientific research.
  • Elements of result & discussion.

Assignments: Students will apply the learned method to their own paper.


The implementation of the course contributes to fulfil the task 3.1 of the project SOILdarity “Assessment of the cross-cutting needs and research excellence tools to improve skills in research management, specifically the research excellence intensive training course on how to write scientific papers.