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European Joint Programme on agricultural soil management


The European Joint Programme will boost soil research with main emphasis on agricultural soil management and its contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The aim is to construct a sustainable framework for an integrated community of research groups working on related aspects of agricultural soil management[[Agro-forestry is included in the topic.]]. The activities should look at how management of agricultural soils can reduce degradation of land and soils (in particular soil erosion and loss of organic matter), preserve and increase fertility of soils and how the processes related to organic content and water retaining capacity can support mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The EJP will evaluate and foster implementation of novel technologies for soil management and carbon sequestration. The aim of the EJP is also to look for synergies between different approaches used in Europe for farm level accounting of emissions and removals from agricultural activities and particularly of carbon storage. In doing so, activities will contribute to improving inventories, measurements, reporting and accounting activities at different scales. Sustainable agricultural productivity and environmental aspects will also be targeted in connection with climate change mitigation and adaptation, so that optimisation of land management is ensured.

The European Joint Programme will include joint programming and execution of research and other joint integrative activities such as education and training (e.g. short-term missions, workshops), knowledge management, access to experimental facilities and databases, including also harmonisation, standardisation. Farmers, landowners and other stakeholders should be included in research activities as appropriate in the spirit with the multi-actor approach[[See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction of this Work Programme part.]].

State-of-art technologies for mapping and soil sampling and analysis (physical, chemical and biological parameters) should be explored for wider and simple use at various levels. In return, by e.g. developing new ICT tools, this could help farmers to protect and manage soils in line with current scientific understanding of processes. The EJP should also facilitate sampling and further development of LUCAS[[Land use/cover area frame statistical survey, abbreviated as LUCAS, is a European field survey program funded and executed by Eurostat]] –European Soil Database as well support EU contribution to global soil mapping activities.

Participating legal entities must have research funding and/or management responsibilities in the field of agriculture soil management.

The proposal should include a five-year roadmap describing the key priorities and governance processes as well as the first annual work plan.

The acquired knowledge should support policy making in the domain of agricultural soil management and related areas, such as agriculture, climate and environment, and when feasible and appropriate knowledge exchange between science and practice for better agricultural soil management by farmers should be envisaged.

The activities will need to be coordinated as appropriate with other international soil related activities under the United Nations umbrella among them the Global Soil Partnership and more particularly with European Soil Partnership node; with the Global Research Alliance on agricultural greenhouse gases; Horizon 2020 project CIRCASA[[Project selected under SFS-50-2017 topic]]; 4‰ Initiative: soils for food security and climate; Joint Programming Initiatives (FACCE, CLIMATE); the Belmont Forum and soil activities coordinated by the European Commission Joint Research Centre [[European Soil Data Centre; EIONET - European Environment Information and Observation Network – soil network]] when relevant and appropriate. The work of the EJP will also support a number of policies: the Common Agricultural Policy, Climate Change related policy and relevant environmental policies, in particular the implementation of the EU Soil Thematic Strategy[[COM(2006)231]].

Financial support provided by the participants to third parties is one of the aims of this action and, in order to achieve the objectives of the action, the 60 000 EUR threshold provided for in Article 137(1)(c) of the Financial Regulation N°966/2012 and Article 210(a) of the Rules of Application Regulation N°1268/2012 can be exceeded.

Considering the budget available, the scope covered and the potential entities for the EJP, the Commission considers that an EU contribution to a maximum 50% of the total eligible costs of the action or up to 40 million EUR would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately.

Good agriculture soil management[[Soil management includes: soil conservation, soil fertility and soil biodiversity.]] contributes to food security, climate change mitigation/adaptation and ecosystem services. Preserving and increasing fertility of soils, not least through their organic content and water retaining capacity, increases agricultural production. Soils and their carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus content are also important for climate change mitigation. A number of good soil management practices have been developed to deal with some of the challenges; however serious knowledge gaps exist, e.g. on the characteristics of soils in various regions of Europe, the factors influencing their fertility functions including their capacity to store carbon, depending on different climate and environment conditions. The European Union is committed to addressing climate change with ambitious targets. An integrated framework for soil research in Europe is required to overcome current fragmentation and unleash the potential of agricultural soils to contribute to climate change mitigation/adaptation, while preserving or increasing agricultural functions.

The project will lead to significant long term alignment and implementation of soil-related research strategies and activities at national and EU level by:

  • fostering understanding of soil management and its influence on climate mitigation and adaptation, sustainable agricultural production and environment;
  • understanding how soil carbon sequestration can contribute to climate change mitigation at regional level including accounting for carbon;
  • strengthening scientific capacities and cooperation across Europe including training of young soil scientists;
  • Supporting harmonised European soil information, including for international reporting;
  • fostering the uptake of soil management practices which are conducive to climate change adaptation and mitigation;
  • developing region-specific fertilisation practices considering the local soil, water and pedo-climatic conditions;

In the long term, the programme will strengthen the role of the farming sector as a steward of land and soil resources. It will increase its capacity to adapt to climate change and contribute to mitigation and carbon sequestration.