Soil biodiversity enhancement in European agroecosystems to promote their stability and resilience by external inputs reduction and crop performance increase


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Objectives, impacts and benefits

SoildiverAgro is EU's H2020 project programme funded consortium project which aims to identify the main challenges threatening soil biodiversity for European agricultural soils through strong involvement of stakeholders and end-users to ensure a realistic identification of farmers` and social challenges.  expand the knowledge about the soil micro- and macro-organisms` genetic and functional diversity and their dynamics in representative European croplands under conventional and organic production systems and different management practices across various European pedoclimatic regions, and to assess the relationships among soil biodiversity, soil characteristics, climatic conditions and cropping systems. The project contributes to the ongoing development of protocols to assess, evaluate, monitor and operationally define soil genetic and functional biodiversity. Soildiveragro aims to identify key target micro- and macro-organisms and to assess the interactions between soil organisms genetic and functional diversity and i) plant health, ii) plant growth and development, iii) crop yield and quality, iv) reduction of external inputs , and v) the delivery of other ecosystem services (soil fertility, prevention of soil pollution, reduction of soil-borne pests, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and enhanced C sequestration). The project aims to propose crop management practices and cropping systems that contribute to enhance soil biodiversity, improve crop production and quality, reduce the use of external inputs and foster the delivery of other ecosystem services in agroecosystems of different pedoclimatic region in EU. The environmental, economic and social costs and benefits of proposed management practices and cropping systems will be assessed, taking into account end-users` needs and farms` profitability, to demonstrate that the proposed crop management practices and cropping systems contribute to reduce production costs and obtain high quality products with higher economic added value. This is achieved by proper management of soil biodiversity due to more resilient and healthy crops with decreasing use of external inputs.The projects is a multi-actor approach that pursues engagement with 4 different groups: project partner, external advisory board, communities of practitioners and other stakeholders. The project is organized around 6 geographical area where 15 case studies will be performed around 3 different crops (potatoes, wheat, vegetables) in mono and diversified cropping system. Consortium involves 22 partners from 7 EU countries and will be conducted during the years 2019-2024.To final aim of the project is to define operational biodiversity targets (functional groups, density, activity, richness and evenness of operational functional or taxonomic groups/species, and abundance of beneficial organisms or pathogens) from the field to regional levels, develop best agricultural practices guidelines, tools and recommendations for updating the agricultural policies in EU based in the enhancement of soil biodiversity.