New Report Shines Light on Soil Monitoring: What's Next for Europe's Soil Health?

· 2 min read

Soil health is crucial for a thriving ecosystem and sustainability in agriculture and the European food supply. That's why the release of the report “D5.1 Analysis of Knowledge Base Available to Monitor Soil Indicators Proposed Under the Soil Mission” is such a significant event for scientists, policymakers and land users.

The Soil Mission, part of the broader Horizon Europe initiative, is dedicated to developing a comprehensive, harmonized soil monitoring framework. This initiative aims to assess policy impacts and track soil health trends across the continent.

A critical component of this mission is integrating existing monitoring programs and improving methodologies, an effort that spans across Europe. However, one of the biggest challenges has been the insufficient monitoring of urban, forest, and industrial soils.

This is where PREPSOIL comes in. The goal of PREPSOIL task 5.1 is to bridge the gap by extending the findings from agricultural soil projects to other types of soils. The task unfolds in two main phases:

  1. Reviewing Soil Monitoring Projects: The first phase involved an in-depth analysis of 23 EU-supported projects related to soil monitoring. This review aimed to gather insights and lessons learned from these projects.
  2. Creating a National Inventory: The second phase focused on compiling an inventory of national soil monitoring experiences, particularly in non-agricultural areas. This inventory covered various aspects such as land use, threats to soil health, sampling strategies, and the indicators used to monitor these soils.
Case Studies and Broader Implications

Five national monitoring systems were selected as case studies to provide detailed insights. These case studies will inform broader discussions in the next phase of the task, which will aim to develop comprehensive recommendations for non-agricultural soil monitoring.

The collected data marks the current state of knowledge on monitoring soil indicators as proposed under the Soil Mission. It's a starting point for a more extensive dialogue with soil experts, national hubs, and related organizations. This iterative process ensures that the recommendations and frameworks developed will be robust, inclusive, and applicable across various soil types and regions.

A Call to Action for Enhanced Soil Monitoring

The release of the “D5.1 Analysis of Knowledge Base Available to Monitor Soil Indicators Proposed Under the Soil Mission” report is more than just a document; it's a call to action.

It highlights the need for enhanced soil monitoring, especially in non-agricultural areas, and sets the stage for the next steps in protecting and improving Europe’s soil health. As this work progresses, it will require continued collaboration and input from a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that the health of all soil types, from urban to forest and industrial, is effectively monitored and managed.

Ida Brems, Aarhus University

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