FP7-project SmartSOIL: Kick-off Meeting in Brussels
How can research contribute to the reversal of soil degradation by improving soil carbon management in European arable and mixed farming systems? This is the central subject of the new FP7-project SmartSOIL and was discussed in the project kick-off meeting held on 10 and 11 November 2011 in Brussels. Ecologic Institute is a core partner in the SmartSOIL consortium, responsible for the development of a decision support tool and the establishment of links with relevant policies.
SmartSOIL stands for "Sustainable farm Management Aimed at Reducing Threats to SOILs under climate change". The project will first identify farming systems and management practices that lead to an optimized balance of crop productivity, the restoration and maintenance of vital soil functions as well as soil carbon sequestration and storage. A decision support tool and guidelines will then be developed to promote suitable management practices across Europe.
The kick-off meeting was attended by a research team of 12 European institutes, bringing together different disciplines such as agronomy, agro-ecology, microbiology, plant sciences, soil sciences, socio-economic and policy sciences. Moreover, representatives from the European Commission and OECD, FAO, and COPA-COGECA were also present.
The discussions focused on how the proposed methodological approach could be adapted to address most effectively the key research questions. In particular, the participants discussed in detail how the modelling activities, long-term experiments, socio-economic and policy analysis and the strong stakeholder involvement can best be combined to achieve the project aims. Further discussion points included the cooperation with ongoing research projects, linking research results to relevant policies and the ongoing work on soil protection in Europe as well as potential problems and challenges the project might have to deal with. The findings from this meeting helped to shape the research agenda and to achieve a common understanding of the key challenges and requirements of SmartSOIL.