World Soil Day 2021 – Halt soil salinization, boost soil productivity

The WSD ceremony will be held virtually on 3 December with the participation of Dr Qu Dongyu  – FAO Director-General and thousands of soil enthusiasts. Artistic performances and keynotes will animate the ceremony. The winners of the Glinka World Soil Prize and King Bhumibol WSD award will also be announced. An interactive quiz will put your knowledge of salt-affected soils to the test. 


Register here | Download the draft agenda 


This year, WSD is devoted to raise awareness on the need to halt soil salinization. This can be natural due to the release of salts from rocks, infiltration and evaporation of seawater, or the deposition of salts due to their proximity to coastal areas. Natural salt-affected soils (SAS) harbour rich ecosystems that need to be conserved and protected.

However, salt accumulation can also be caused by unsustainable human activities such as irrigation with poor quality or insufficient water, deforestation, the unsustainable use of fertilizers, or the overexploitation of aquifers in areas prone to marine intrusion, among others. These practices have severe impacts on some of the ecosystem services that soils typically provide, which are critical for sustaining human life and biodiversity, such as reduced agricultural productivity, increased soil erosion, reduced buffering, and filtering capacities against contaminants, and decreased soil fertility and micronutrient availability. SAS contain salts and exchangeable sodium at levels that adversely affect the growth and development of many plants, either directly (due to toxicity), or indirectly (due to effects on soil’s physical properties that restrict root growth and water percolation).

SAS are found all around the world and impact some 833 million hectares of land. This value may grow significantly in the coming years, exacerbated by climate change and unsustainable human activity, so that areas without SAS may be hit. Efforts must be made to understand the processes that lead to the development of SAS, prevent human-induced soil salinisation and sodification, and safeguard  soil health for better production, nutrition,  robust environments and health – so that no-one is left behind.  

Simultaneous interpretation will be available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish

SOILdarity Workshop – How soil science contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

What can soil science do to contribute to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? Well, lots of things. The achievement of SDGs heavily depends on ecosystem services and many of these results from key soil functions.

The research team holds a workshop on soil science and SDGs on 28 October 2021 (in English) 9:30 – 16:30 (GMT+1).

In the online workshop How Soil Science contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, SOILdarity would like to invite stakeholders from research, business, civil society to discuss and review the key issues revolving around the decrease in availability of resources (e.g., water, land, nutrients) and our capacity to increase food production while sustainably managing our natural resources. Furthermore, issues such as land degradation, soil erosion, and loss of organic matter are deeply intertwined with decline in environmental quality and threaten the livelihoods of millions of people around the world. Soils are at the heart of the SDGs and are fundamental towards achieving them.

The sphere of influence of soils in reaching the SDGs. (source: flores.unu.edu)

Programme | (GMT+1, Lisbon time)

Program will be updated with more information on invited speakers

1st session | (9:30 – 11:30, Lisbon Time)

Soil science as a major contributor to the implementation of the UN SDG: interface with agriculture activity (including live-stock and forests) and food production; Land use management; ecosystem services and water supply and quality.

Moderator: Teresa Dias

9:30-9:45 | Opening session: Prof. Iggy Litaor: Soil science in the context of Sustainable Development Goals (MIGAL & THC)

9:45-10:00 | Prof. Giora Rytwo: Optimization of water treatment (MIGAL & THC)

10:00-10:15 | Dr. Aviv Asher: Center for animal husbandry (MIGAL)

10:15-10:30 | Dr Liora Shaltiel-Harpaz: The Black Soldier Fly’s contribution to circular economy: sustainable reduction of organic wastes (MIGAL & THC)

10:30-10:45 | Dr Assaf Chen: Smart farming (MIGAL)

10:45-11:00 | Dr Eric Palevsky: Soil amendments and soil conservation for conserving and augmenting beneficial microbiota and mesofauna (ARO)

11:00-11:30 | Q&A session

11:30-11:45 | Coffee break

2nd session | (11:45 – 13:00, Lisbon time)

Implementing the Green Deal: Goals and conditions. Moderator: Uri Marchaim

11:45-12:15 | ISERD Representative(s) – Hagit Schwimmer: The European framework program, Horizon Europe, as a tool for implementing the Green Deal strategy – open opportunities in Cluster 6

12:15-12:45 | Dr. Miguel Viegas– CAP and Cohesien Policy: challenges to face SDGs (U.Aveiro)

12:45-13:00 | Q&A session

13:00-14:00 | Lunch

3rd session | (14:00 – 15:45, Lisbon Time)

The measurement, the evaluation and the dissemination of soil sciences contributions for SDGs : Gaps, solutions and networks. Soil monitoring programs. The cases of Belgium, Israel and Portugal. Moderator: Maria Amélia Martins-Loução

14:00-14:20 | IL: Dr Gil Eshel: Can we make productive agriculture while restoring soil health and the adjacent ecosystem? The model farm as a field lab (ARO – Israel)

14:20:14:40 | BE: Prof. Abdul Mouazen– The potential of online soil sensing in optimizing the precision application of farming input resources.

14:40-15:00 | PT: Dr. Corina Carranca

15:00-15:20 | Eng. Margarida Mota: How can farmers contribute to the soil monitoring programs

15:20-15:30 | Coffee break

15:30-15:45 | Q&A session, debate

Final remarks | (15:45-16:00, Lisbon Time)

Prof. Margarida Santos Reis and Prof. Cristina Cruz

How to register | by 27 October 2021

To register, please fill out the form below.
DEADLINE for registering: October 27, at 5:00pm (GMT+1). The Zoom link will be sent to all registered participants on October 27, evening.

The event 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).

Using treated wastewater as fertilizer: The first SOILdarity training course

The first SOILdarity training course is getting started!

Phosphorous (P), a non-renewable resource, has been applied extensively in farm fields and orchards to increase crop yield, yet consequently has increased the potential of waterway eutrophication. Hence, there is an urgent need to develop an innovative method of P capturing, recycling and reuse that will sustain agricultural productivity while concurrently reducing the level of P discharge from and to agricultural settings.

Against this background, SOILdarity has organized a multi-module course on the “Optimisation of the use of treated wastewater as a source for alternative fertilisers”.


The course is totally free of charge but
places are limited, so hurry up! Registration is open until 9* July 2021, 23:59 (Portugal Time).


The Content of the Course

The course is held by Prof. M. Iggy Litaor, who leads the MIGAL team, which is also made up of the Lab. Assistants Oren Reichman and Adi Zarka.

They will explain the principle behind MIGAL’s new patent on the subject and will address the following topics:

  1. Introduction to P cycling including eutrophication processes of water ways, expected global P scarcity and its influence on the green revolution;
  2. Physical and chemical characteristics of alum residue (Al-WTR);
  3. Mechanism of adsorption capacity of Al-WTR;
  4. Adsorption kinetic models;
  5. Adsorption equilibrium isotherm models;
  6. Adsorption dependency on pH;
  7. P adsorption is more favoured by small/fine particle size ranges than with bigger sized particles;
  8. Results of retention time; dependency on experimental conditions;
  9. Competitive Ions;
  10. Dosage of adsorbent.

When & Where

19-23 July 2021 (Theoretical Module via Zoom)
26-30 July (Presential Practical Module)

Both theoretical and practical classes will be held from 9:00 – 17:00 (Portugal time)

The practical module will take place at Faculdade de Ciências- Universidade de Lisboa

The course is open to researchers and students from FC.ID and the Faculty of Science of the University of Lisbon who have an adequate background and knowledge of the course subject.

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/Vm3txF8Zy3g3NxFJ6 into your web browser.

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

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

or

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


*NEW DATE. Due to the large amount of requests we received in the last days, we decided to postpone the deadline by 3 days. The registration process was originally due to end on 6 July.

Online Workshop on Women Empowerment, Gender Equality and RRI – Registration Open

The current COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the critical role that science and women’s empowerment play for driving progress forward across the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Against this background, SOILdarity supports the need to better leverage the skills of women in science.

The research team holds a workshop on women empowerment, gender equality, responsible research & innovation on 27 April 2021 (in English) 9:30 – 16:30 (GMT+1).

In the online workshop “Women empowerment, gender equality, responsible research & innovation” taking on 27 April 2021, the team of the project “SOILdarity” would like to invite stakeholders from research, business, politics, civil society to discuss and review the key issues revolving women empowerment and gender equality in research, women in entrepreneurship, main obstacles to develop a successful professional career inside formal organizations, women in policy affairs, the institutional support to women empowerment in sciences and in science management.

The event aims to increase awareness about women opportunities/obstacles in the labour market and promote a debate about specific policies and programmes for women in research and innovation.


Knowledge knows no gender

But in EU-27 women are:

  • 41% of the scientists/engineers
  • 48 % of the PhD graduates
  • 33 % of the researchers
  • 24 % of the academic leaders

Programme | (GMT+1, Lisbon time)

Program will be updated with more information on abstracts and invited speakers

9:30am:  Open session and welcome: Cristina Cruz (cE3c-Ciências ULisboa, Coordinator of SOILdarity project)

1st session (9:40-11:15am)

9:40am: Prominent issues related with women empowerment and gender equality: women in entrepreneurship, obstacles to deveop a successful professional career inside formal organizations, women in policy affairs.

With the invited speakers: Maria João H. Parreira, Researcher in INIAV/ JobToc Project, Lourdes Morillas (Researcher and Marie Curie expert in cE3c/Ciências- ULisboa), Sónia Brito [Winner of the competition for women agricultural entrepreneurs TalentA (CAP)], Sandra Ribeiro (President of the Commission for Citizenship and Equality- Portugal). Moderator: Alexandra Freire [Confederation of Portuguese Farmers (CAP)].

10:45-11:15am: Debate.

11:15-11:30am: Coffee-break.

2nd session (11:30am-1:30pm)

11:30am: The women empowerment and gender issues in distinct realities.

With the invited speakers: Cristina Máguas Hanson (Coordinator of cE3c – Ciências ULisboa), Avigail Moor (Tel-Hai College/ MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute), Patrizia Grifoni (Italian Research Council, member of R&I- PEERS), Maria de Jesus Fernandes, President of the Portuguese Order of Biologists. Moderator: Maria Amélia Martins-Loução (cE3c – Ciências ULisboa).

12:45-1:30pm: Debate.

1:30pm: Lunch

3rd session (2:30-4:30pm)

2:30pm: The institutional support to women empowerment in sciences, in science management and in other activities.

With the invited speakers: José Matos (National Institute for Agricultural and Veterinary Research (PT)), Luísa Meireles (LUSA News Agency), Olubukola O. Babalola (Org. for Women in Science for the Dev. World, Africa), Rosa Monteiro (Secretary of State for Citizenship and Equality). Moderator: Anne Cova (Social Sciences Institute (PT)).

4:00-4:30pm: Debate.

4:30pm: Conclusions and Closure session: Ana Ventura (Soildarity Project, cE3c – Ciências ULisboa) and Cristina Cruz (Coordinator of Soildarity Project).

How to Register | by 26th April 2021

To register for the above mentioned workshop, please fill out the form below.
DEADLINE for registering: April 26, at 5:00pm (GMT+1). The Zoom link will be sent to all registered participants on April 26, evening.

The event 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).

Water management, plant-soil interactions, alternative fertilizers – SOILdarity training programme

SOILdarity has been launching its first training programme!

The programme is made up of two specilised courses:

  1. The multi-module course on the “optimisation of the use of treated waste waters as a source for alternative fertilisers”, and
  2. The multi-module course on “soil ecology in dry ecosystems”.

The courses will be held in Lisbon and will be given from June 2021.

Course 1: Optimisation of the use of treated waste waters as a source for alternative fertilisers

Phosphorous, a non-renewable resource, has been applied extensively in fields to increase crop yield, yet consequently has increased the potential of waterway eutrophication. Hence, there is an urgent need to develop an innovative method of P capturing, recycling and reuse that will sustain agricultural productivity while concurrently reducing the level of P discharge from and to agricultural settings. We will demonstrate the applicability of the widely produced by-products of drinking water utilities and desalinization plants known as Aluminum-based Water Treatment Residual (Al-WTR) and Iron-based Water Treatment Residual (Fe/WTR) respectively. Al- and Fe- WTR are known as an excellent P adsorbent and could be used to recover P from agricultural wastewaters; subsequently, it could be applied to the fields as a P fertilizer. We will show that Al-WTR and Fe-WTR behave as sinks and will adsorb inorganic P (Pi), along with organic P (Po), dissolved organic matter (DOM) and other constituents from agro-organic wastes. We will demonstrate that the sorption of multiple constituents generates an Al/Organic Composite (Al/O-WTR) and Fe/ Organic Composite (Fe/O-WTR) that will desorb Pi and Po more effectively in the field compared to Al-WTR and Fe- WTR. The workshop objectives are: 1) to develop a thorough understanding of the sorption mechanisms of Pi and Po onto the Al/O-WTR and Fe/O-WTR; and 2) to critically evaluate the performance of the composite WTRs as a fertilizer using selected plants grown in screen-houses and in test-fields.

Course 2: Soil ecology in dry ecosystems

Although hidden from the eye, it is becoming more and more clear, that the ecology of soil processes can have far reaching effects on the aboveground ecology of natural and agricultural habitats. The role of soil microbes in affecting forest health and crop yields is currently unravelling. The course will be made up of classroom lectures in which the role of soil microbes (with an emphasis on mycorrhiza and rhizobium) on forest ecology will be discussed. Each day will include a morning lecture followed by a field trip related to the taught material. Some of the topics that will be covered include nutrient cycling, the role of soil microbes in forest regeneration after disturbance, soil ecology and its effect on plant health, competitive interactions within the soil, plant soil feedback and their effect on plant community dynamics, soil microbes and invasive plant species.

PhD and Postdoc positions available. Apply now!

Are you looking for exciting career opportunities in precision agriculture?

2 PhD scholarships and 1 postdoc position are available in the Precision Soil and Crop Engineering (Precision Scoring) group at the University of Ghent.

Postdoc position

PhD positions

Keyword: Precision agriculture, soil science, smart farming.