Consortium wins 12 million euros to develop soil monitoring structure

The development, in 24 European Living Labs, of a soil monitoring structure that is transparent, harmonized, economical, and that allows evaluation on several scales and by different users is the objective of Benchmarks, a project in which the Department of Sciences of the Life (DCV) of the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra (FCTUC), now financed with 12 million euros.

Starting in January 2023, this project «intends to work within the European mission “Soil Health and Food” (food and soil health) which set the goal of having 75% of soils in Europe healthy or significantly improved by the beginning of next decade», reveals Luís Cunha, the researcher responsible for the project at the University of Coimbra. “Benchmarks was also developed in line with the European Green Deal and the Farm-to-Fork Strategy, as well as preparations for a new EU law on the protection of soil health », denotes.

According to Luís Cunha, the international project in which he participates involves around three dozen European institutions and has also defined other objectives, namely «a harmonized and economic structure to measure soil health, the revision of the proposed SH&F indicators and Benchmarks tested in the 24 Landscape Case Studies, an integrated soil health tool that demonstrates the links between indicators, soil functions, and ecosystem services, and also a science-based soil health incentive scheme for companies in the value chain».

With an execution period of five years, the Benchmarks will establish indicators that require a multidisciplinary methodology, from the use of methods focused on the physicochemical properties of the soil, also passing through biology and biochemistry. On the other hand, the focus at several scales requires the inclusion of methods from molecular biology to remote sensing methods and geographic information systems (GIS).

This is an Horizonte 2020 project that involves countries like Portugal, Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, and Germany, «which reflects a great cultural diversity and deeply multidisciplinary», concludes the researcher from FCTUC.


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