This topic contributes to the objectives and targets of the EU Soil Strategy which foresees that by 2050, all soils in the EU should be healthy, i.e. are in good chemical, physical and biological conditions, and thus able to continuously provide as many ecosystem services as possible. It also contributes to the Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’, in particular to its specific objective 6 “Improve soil structure to enhance habitat quality for soil biota and crops”.
Project results should contribute to all of the following outcomes:
Soils underpin the delivery of a range of ecosystem services which are essential for the environmental, social and economic wellbeing of people. Many of these services such as the production of biomass for food and other uses, removal of pollutants, support of above-ground biodiversity (e.g. farmland birds), provision of soil structure, nutrient cycling and carbon storage depend on the activities of a fascinating and complex network of soil organisms such as insects, invertebrates, bacterial and fungal organisms.
While our knowledge about individual components of soil biodiversity has significantly increased, the links between soil biodiversity, the multifunctionality of soils and the delivery of ecosystem services needs to be further explored. Furthermore, there is still a need to better understand the overall organisation of soil organisms (e.g. in terms of abundance, species richness, relationships of interdependence, evolution through time and community structure) and how pressures and drivers (including their interactions) resulting from different forms of land use and climate change affect the composition, functions, resilience and adaptation capacities of soil biota and their capacity to support multiple ecosystem services (ES).
Proposed activities should:
In carrying out activities, proposals should consider various land uses such as urban, agriculture, forest, (semi)-natural, wetlands, drylands, industrial and mining, and highlight those types of soils where previous research has shown significant knowledge gaps. With regard to agriculture, work should draw on sustainable practices, applied across a range of farming systems and benefit both conventional and organic farming. Activities should be carried across a range of climatic/biogeographical regions in the EU and Associated Countries and take into account different spatial scales (e.g. field, landscape). Transdisciplinary approaches should be applied and include social sciences and humanities. The project should follow a multi-actor approach.
Activities should be undertaken in close cooperation with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the European Environment Agency (EEA). The cooperation with the JRC is particularly relevant in view of further developing the LUCAS Soil survey and the Soil Health Dashboard under the European Soil Observatory (EUSO). Proposals should demonstrate a route towards open access, longevity, sustainability and interoperability of knowledge and outputs through close collaboration with the EUSO and other projects to be funded under the Soil Deal mission.
Projects funded under this topic should also take into account major R&I initiatives such as the European Joint Programme EJP Soil, the European Biodiversity Partnership Biodiversa+, the Global Soil Partnership, the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative SoilBON, EuropaBON and other projects working on soil biodiversity. To this end proposals should foresee dedicated tasks and allocate appropriate resources.
In this topic, the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content is not a mandatory requirement.Cross-cutting Priorities:
Social sciences and humanities