How soil can help save the world

Forest Soil

Soil science is not usually considered the most exciting discipline by the general public. Many people – including in the science world – have underestimated what is beneath our feet.

However, we are now in the International Decade of Soils, and it is time to shine a light on the role of soil in providing food security, supporting biodiversity and mitigating climate change. This article from the BBC showcases how Pete Smith, Professor of Soil and Global Change at the University of Aberdeen, makes the study of soil appealing, for instance, considering how wetlands and peatlands are the “Cinderella” of climate change mitigation.

Read on to find a myriad of ways in which soil can indeed help save the world.

How soil can help save the world, BBC Radio 4 in Four, https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/39xtyKjNyrGSGhVTMZjPLkv/how-soil-can-help-save-the-world



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, https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0017tgl



New funding opportunities for the EU Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’

Mushroom in a forest soil

After an amendment to the Horizon Europe Work Programme 2021-2022, new opportunities for funding have been published on the Commission’s funding and tender opportunities portal to contribute to the A Soil Deal for Europe Mission.

The goals of this mission include but are not limited to reducing desertification, conserving soil organic carbon stocks, enhancing soil biodiversity, and improving soil literacy in society.

Apply by 27 September 2022.

More information

HoliSoils celebrates a year of working together for forest soils

Field trip - May2022 -Sarah Adams

The first HoliSoils project meeting and General Assembly took place in Helsinki in mid May 2022.

The project celebrated a year of activities, with scientific presentations from each of the work packages. These included:

  • Analysing soil properties & drivers of microbiological processes
  • Forest soils under different management scenarios in Europe
  • Modelling dynamics of soil properties & element fluxes
  • Harmonised soil monitoring framework for an EU GHG inventory
  • Holistic sustainable soil & forest management strategies
  • Soil resilience & recovery capacity after natural disturbances
Helsinki May 2022 Day one Sarah Adams

The meeting offered the opportunity for the project’s many post-docs to present posters on their areas of study.

Then, a lively communication training session looked at ways partners can engage with project communications on social media and by writing blog posts.

An inspirational field trip took the group to the peatland forests of Ränskälänkorpi, where test sites for the project’s WP4 and WP5 are established. After an introduction to the study designs, there were demonstrations on four of the different types of experiments taking place in the project, on locations around Europe:

  • GHG measurements
  • Soil fauna sampling
  • Infiltration measurements
  • Soil sampling protocol discussion

Do you want to know where the rest of the HoliSoils test sites are located?

The wealth of information and activity shared during the three days’ meeting in Helsinki show that HoliSoils project is well on track and that collaboration is vital for the project’s success.

Browse all the photos from the meeting!

Survey on forest soil greenhouse gas inventories in Europe now launched

In scope of the HoliSoils project, the Thuenen Institute (consortium partner) launched a questionnaire to review the different methods of calculating and reporting GHG fluxes in European countries. The aim is to gain knowledge of the applied methods, but also assess uncertainties and challenges of national inventories and pinpoint areas that can be improved. Based on the results of the questionnaire, we want to develop practice-oriented recommendations for improving future forest soil GHG inventories.

The questionnaire is targeted towards national experts specialised in either soil GHG inventory reporting procedures, national soil surveys or soil carbon modelling. For each target audience, a separate survey was created:

  1. GHG inventory reporting procedures
    https://thuenen.limequery.com/735421?lang=en
  2. Soil monitoring programs used for GHG inventories
    https://thuenen.limequery.com/189485?lang=en
  3. Soil carbon modelling approached used for GHG inventories and Forest Reference Levels
    https://thuenen.limequery.com/293423?lang=en

If you are a national expert in the field of GHG reporting, please help us by filling out the questionnaire(s) that applies to you until 22 May 2022.

Please feel free to distribute this news to your colleagues. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us:

PhD defence invitation – Soil organic carbon modelling

PhD candidate Elisa Bruni from the Climate and Environmental Sciences Laboratory (LSCE) in France is pleased to invite you to her doctoral thesis defence entitled “Soil organic carbon modelling: estimating carbon input changes required to reach policy objectives aimed at increasing soil organic carbon stocks”.

The defence will take place on Monday 28 March 2022 at 2:00 p.m. in Amphi 7 of AgroParisTech (Paris-Maine), located at 19 Avenue du Maine, 75015 Paris. For those who prefer to attend remotely, you can join the videoconference through the following link (Meeting ID: 930 0252 2076 / Password: 954715). The presentation will be held in English.


The thesis jury board is composed of the following experts:

  • Axel DON, Senior Lecturer, Thünen Institute (Germany) – Rapporteur & Examiner
  • Isabelle BASILE, Research Director, INRAE Centre PACA (France) – Rapporteur & Examiner
  • Sébastien Barot, Director of Research, IRD (France) – Examiner
  • Patricia Garnier, Director of Research, INRAE (France) – Examiner
  • Emanuele Lugato, Project manager, Joint Research Centre (Europe) – Examiner
  • Stefano Manzoni, Senior Lecturer, Stockholm University (Sweden) – Examiner
  • Claire Chenu, Director of Research, INRAE (France) – Thesis director
  • Bertrand Guenet, Research Fellow, INRAE (France) – Examiner
  • Denis Angers, Honorary Director of Research, Université de Laval (Canada) – Invited
  • Gaby Deckmyn, Senior Scientist, University of Antwerp (Belgium) – Invited

Thesis abstract

To partially compensate for CO2 emissions, the 4 per 1000 initiative proposed an annual 4‰ soil organic carbon (SOC) stock increase. Yet, the feasibility of such an ambitious target is still under debate. The most efficient way to increase the SOC stocks is to increase the C input to the soil. The objective of this thesis was to estimate the C input required to yearly increase the SOC stocks by 4‰ in European croplands.

To solve this problem, we built an inverse modelling approach and tested it on a SOC model, by estimating the C input required to reach the 4‰ objective at multiple long-term agricultural experiments in Europe. Then, we applied this approach to a multimodel ensemble, to assess the uncertainties of the estimations according to different representations of the SOC dynamics. As a first attempt to provide insights for policymakers on the feasibility of a 4‰ target in Europe, we applied a multi-model ensemble over the whole European cropland area, and we generated maps of the required C input under two scenarios of climate change. To improve the simulation of SOC stocks at the European scale, we tested a new, statistically derived, parametrization technique.

Our study demonstrates that there are substantial uncertainties around the C input required to reach a 4‰ target. However, a general pattern emerges at the European cropland scale, where the 4‰ target seems feasible under future scenarios of climate change, only assuming drastic increases of C input to the soil.

4th Ecology of Soil Microorganisms Conference 2022

The Institute of Microbiology of the Czech Academy of Sciences (a member of the HoliSoils consortium) is pleased to invite you to the 4th conference on the Ecology of Soil Microorganisms to be held in Prague, Czech Republic on 19-23 June 2022. This will be the fourth conference in the triennial symposium series on this topic, last organised in Helsinky in 2018. The conferences were attended by more than 400 participants from all over the world.

The conference is planned as an interdisciplinary platform that should offer as much interaction as possible between the various topics of microbial ecology. This includes questions concerning individual microbes, microbial communities as well as their interactions with the environment and other soil biota. The organisers aim to link current “omics” molecular methods, such as metagenomics, metatranscriptomics and metaproteomics, with approaches based on soil chemical and biochemical analyses, exploration of soil fauna and plant ecology.

The other important goal of the conference is a broad scope covering the ecology of all microbes: bacteria and fungi, as well as archaea and protozoa. The Institute of Microbiology of the Czech Academy of Sciences aims to bring together experts from all these disciplines in a meeting where all can benefit from interactions and thus promote research in the field of soil ecology.

Important dates:

  • Abstract submission: March 15, 2022
  • Early bird registration deadline: March 15, 2022
  • Young scientist grants application: March 15, 2022
  • Final programme announcement: May, 2022
  • Conference June 19-23, 2022

Download Conference flyer (PDF)

Register now online!

Visit conference website

Have your say on soil health! – Protecting, sustainably managing and restoring EU soils

Soils are crucial for food, nature and our economy and deserve the same level of protection as water, air or the marine environment. The European Commission aims to prepare a proposal for a Soil Health Law announced in the EU Soil Strategy 2030, which aims to specify the conditions for healthy soil, identify options for soil monitoring and set standards leading to sustainable soil use and restoration.

In order to improve and enhance this legislation, a consultation process has been opened so that both the general public and stakeholders in the specific field of soil science can provide feedback on the challenges, opportunities and solutions as well as any relevant information that would be of interest to the European Commission to improve the proposed law.

The European Commission would like to hear your views!

The Commission is seeking your feedback by 16 March 2022. This call for evidence is currently open for comments and your input will be taken into account to further develop and refine this legislative initiative for a future EU Soil Health Directive in 2023. The draft document for an impact assessment that will serve as the basis for the future legislation work can be downloaded here.

Haver your say and give your feedback!

Webinar: Recent developments in modelling water balance and ghg emissions from forested peatlands

Details

Start: 9:00 AM (CET) 4 March 2022
End: 12:00 PM (CET) 4 March 2022

Organizer

Luke Finland
Website: https://www.luke.fi/en/

Venue

Online / Microsoft Teams

Description

In recent years, significant model developments have been made in modelling peatland ecosystems. These developments have been motivated by the importance of these ecosystems to green-house gas emissions and to forestry. Therefore, it is also central to understand how they respond to changing conditions and management.

In this seminar organized by Luke Finland, we will take a look at processes driving peatland ghg emissions and growth, as well as novel modelling approaches to quantify their ghg impacts at larger scales.

Postdoc opportunity in Microbial Ecology of Forest Soils

The Laboratory of Environmental Microbiology (Czech Academy of Sciences) is looking for a motivated postdoctoral fellow. The position is offered for an initial period of one year, but may be extended for up to three years. The position is open until filled, starting date is negotiable (expected before 1st September 2022).

About the postdoctoral position

The successful candidate will join the international consortium of the H2020 project “HoliSoils” that explores the effects of forest management on ecosystem processes such as greenhouse gas fluxes, C storage and biodiversity preservation. The person will be involved in the study of the structural and functional response of the soil microbiome to forest management, disturbances and global change across Europe and will have the opportunity to collaborate with a number of leading groups in this research field. In addition, the candidate will be responsible for coordination of experimental work of the project partners.

Qualifications

  • PhD degree in the field of microbiology, mycology, ecology, botany, forestry or similar.
  • Experience in microbial biodiversity or microbial ecology.
  • First-authored papers in leading interdisciplinary journals or high-ranking IF journals in the fields of ecology, microbiology, soil science or forest research
  • Excellence in English and good communication skills
  • Motivation for independent scientific work in the field defined by the aims of the proposal
  • Previous involvement in projects focusing on forests or soils represents an advantage
  • Experience with advanced statistical methods, modelling approaches or large data management represents an advantage
  • During the appointment, the person will be based in the Czech Republic

How to apply?

Please send your Curriculum Vitae, motivation letter and contacts to at least two independent professionals (such as PhD or postdoc supervisors) who can provide reference. Contact person: Petr Baldrian ().

More information