How long can trees survive without water?

Tree Roots

A new podcast episode investigates the consequence of water deprivation to trees. Peter Wohlleben, a NY-times bestselling author and forester, interviews Dr. Karin Pritsch, from the Helmholtz Institutes, and Prof. Thorsten Grams, from the Technical University of Munich. The two scientists recount the five-year experiment they perform to study the ability of trees to cope with these extreme drought conditions.

The experts talk in detail about what happens below the ground when no water is given to the soil for five years: in particular, they focus on the quantitative decline of roots and mycorrhizae. Listen to the full episode (in German)


Peter Wohlleben / GEO / Audio Alliance, Das Dürre-Experiment – Dr. Karin Pritsch und Prof. Thorsten Grams, Peter und der Wald – ein GEO-Podcast, SCIENCE,

The Secrets of Soil – an interactive journey in the world beneath our feet

Are you looking for an innovative way to explore soil? Secrets of Soil offers an interactive experience to learn more about soil and climate change.

This interactive journey delves into the hidden world beneath our feet, exploring the many forms of life that inhabit soil and showcasing the role that it can play in tackling climate change. Secret of Soils offers an artistic experience through amazing visuals developed by Henry Driver.

Learn more about the Secrets of Soil!

Join this new European Commission open course on soil biodiversity!


Soils host much of the biodiversity of our planet, but often the life beneath our feet is overlooked. The European Commission is now offering a free online course on soil biodiversity to raise awareness on the importance of these resources and the EU initiatives to protect our soil.

The course Soil, a burst of life: the hidden world beneath our feet is designed to offer an overview of the topic of soil biodiversity to science teachers, high school students and the general public.

What are you waiting for? Enroll now!

Soil experiments for kids

Kids doing science experiments

All kids love playing with mud, right? Well, getting stuck into the soil is a great introduction to some great science experiments.  Read on to find out how you can encourage kids to learn how soil can support all life on the planet.

FAO, within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP), has published two booklets to inspire children to play with soil and learn more about this crucial resource. The first booklet contains six hands-on science experiments through which children can explore concepts such as soil sampling, soil erosion, water retention, soil gases, soil texture, and the role of earthworms. The second one aims to give children an insight into soil knowledge, focusing on soil salinity. Two easily replicable experiments encourage children to play and discover why salty soils can be a problem for growing food.

Have a look at the two collections of experiments below:

Discover soil biodiversity listening to the Life in the Soil podcast

Life in the Soil

The podcast Life in the Soil brings you the insights and voices of some of the world’s best soil scientists. The six available episodes explore soil biodiversity, why it matters, and how we can protect it. The podcast was produced by the Rillig Lab (Freie Universität Berlin – Institut für Biologie) in collaboration with podcaster Anja Krieger, and it was funded through the BiodivERsA project Digging Deeper.

The first episode, with the contribution of soil scientist Johannes Lehmann, focuses on the role of soil in hosting biodiversity below the ground: this natural habitat is crucial to support many different ecosystems. In the second episode, insights from Katie FieldToby KiersBala Chaudhary, shed light on the fascinating word of mushrooms and fungi, and their close relations with plants. The third and fourth installments of the podcast explore the many components and organisms that constitute soil and which technological innovations can help us to understand soil better. The many threats posed to soil by human activities are investigated in the fifth episode, while the last conversation focuses on how to ensure a sustainable future for soils ecosystems, from rural areas to cities.

Listen to the full episodes on iTunes, Google Podcasts and Spotify!


Matthias Rillig and Anja Krieger, Life in the Soil Audio Podcast, Rillig Lab,

Review on greenhouse gas reporting in European forest soils

Makowski & Wellbrock poster

In the framework of the HoliSoils project, the Thuenen Institute is working on the soil monitoring framework. In particular, their work focuses on reviewing European GHG reporting in forest soils, developing guidelines for harmonized soil sampling methods for future reporting and providing a server for open-access harmonized European maps of forest soil properties. Furthermore, they developed a survey for GHG experts to gain their suggestions for improvement concerning GHG reporting.

Their work mainly focuses on carbon (C) data from forest soils remaining forest soils and differentiates between mineral and organic soils. On this poster, Vera Makowski and Nicole Wellbrock give an overview of the most important findings of the review process and the resultant actions within HoliSoils.

Read more on the full poster

Listen now to why soil matters for many challenges beyond climate change

The Life Scientific Podcast

In the BBC’s podcast The Life Scientific, Jim Al-Khalili interviews Pete Smith, Professor of Soil and Global Change at the University of Aberdeen, on the underestimation of soil science and how throughout his career he realised that studying soil can be key to deal with a variety of global issues.

The conversation focuses on how soil is vital not only for climate change mitigation, but also for improving biodiversity and tackling many more sustainable development challenges.

Listen to the full conversation and get to know why soil is so crucial for our future.

Pete Smith on why soil matters, The Life Scientific,

How to use GlobalFungi database?

We enjoy an accumulating wealth of fungal sequencing data from various geographical regions, ecosystems and habitats, thanks to recent advance of high-throughput-sequencing methods.

GlobalFungi Database provides FAIR access to published data on fungal community composition obtained by next-generation-sequencing through a web-based interface that allows various queries of the database and visualization of the results. 

The database covers data from all terrestrial habitats except those subject to experimental manipulation, containing information on fungal communities from soil, litter, dead plant material, living plant tissues, water, air, dust and others.

GlobalFungi invites participation of the scientific community! Please submit data from studies that are not yet covered.

GlobalFungi was conceived by researchers from the Institute of Microbiology of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague.

Submit your study!

HoliSoils in a nutshell

Soils are crucial for the global climate and human wellbeing, providing clear benefits for people and the planet in their sustainable management. Knowledge gaps on forest soil processes and the lack of harmonised soil monitoring limits our ability to maintain soil-related ecosystem services and achieve climate policy objectives.

A better understanding of soil processes can support decision making in meeting climate and sustainability goals. This requires harmonised monitoring methods, models, tools and data to develop and inform policies and strategies to meet the SDGs of the UN 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement, as well as the European Green Deal.

Find out how HoliSoils meets this challenge! The HoliSoils brochure is available now for an excellent overview on this exciting project focussing on holistic management practices, modelling and monitoring for European forest soils.

HoliSoils brochure – English (PDF)

HoliSoils brochure – Japanese (PDF)

HoliSoils brochure – Slovak (PDF)

European Green Deal: Research and innovation for healthy soils & forests

Photo Resource Factsheet EU

The European Green Deal package on Nature adopted on 17 November 2021 marks a milestone in the effort to stop deforestation and make soils healthy for people, nature and climate. Healthy soils are key for climate neutrality, a clean and circular economy, reversing biodiversity loss, providing healthy food, safeguarding human health, and halting desertification and land degradation.

The new EU Soil Strategy for 2030 will promote the protection, restoration and sustainable use of soils. Deforestation and forest degradation are central drivers of global warming and biodiversity loss. The new Deforestation Regulation will guarantee that products placed on the EU market do not contribute to global deforestation and Forest degradation, it will also reduce carbon emissions, and address illegal activities harming forests.