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Emerging challenges for soil management


Proposals should address only one of the following sub-topics:

A. [2020]: Emerging challenges for soil management: Soil biodiversity assessment (RIA)

Proposals shall cover soil biodiversity analysis, including relevant microbes and invertebrates for soil-mediated ecosystem services. Proposals shall address soil management, exploring the links between soil biodiversity, its functions and land degradation to increase economic, environmental and social wellbeing of biogeographical regions of Europe. Proposals shall cover ecosystem stressors on soil and more particularly on soil biodiversity and its potential impact on ecosystem functions.

Work shall build on the existing initiatives[[European Soil Biodiversity Atlas prepared by of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas prepared by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative.]] and provide support to relevant Member State commitments under the Global Soil Partnership. If relevant cooperation and complementarities could also be sought with projects funded by other Societal Challenges[[Societal Challenge 1 (Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing), Societal Challenge 5 (Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials)]]. International cooperation is encouraged.

B. [2020]: Emerging challenges for soil management: use of plastic in agriculture (RIA)

Proposals shall cover analysis of the use of plastic in agricultural production and its impact on soil. The particular focus of the proposals should be on the micro-plastic after harvest and its fate in the environment. The potential future impact of micro-plastic on soil biodiversity and its potential transfer to other parts of the environment and beyond should be analysed.

Activities shall also analyse the impact of micro- and nano-plastics on soil properties and its ecosystem services function. In addition the focus of this analysis should be concentrated on the use of plastic during agricultural production at the field level but also at the farm level. Proposals should fall under the concept of the 'multi-actor approach'[[See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction to this Work Programme part.]]

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Sustainable soil management is paramount to keep soils in a good status for both agriculture and environmental needs. Over the past years, our understanding of the various threats to soil functions has increased. The recent, more in depth analysis of the importance of soil biodiversity for delivering important ecosystem services has identified major knowledge gaps on its role for the degradation of waste materials and for agricultural productivity. The extensive use of plastics, products containg plastic and other emerging contaminants in daily life has not only impacts on oceans but also on soils. The understanding of the impact and fate of micro- and nano-plastics and other stressors on soils is very limited and needs assessing. Following recent assessments of land degradation by IPBES and IPCC, there is also a need to evaluate the economic, social and environmental costs of soil and land degradation.

  • Understand the current status, challenges and potential of soil biodiversity (sub-scope A);
  • Understand the impact of micro- and nano-plastics on soil biodiversity and ecosystem services (sub-scope B);
  • Understand the impact of micro- and nano-plastics and other stressors in soil on agricultural productivity and ecosystem services (sub-scope B);
  • Understand and assess the chemical changes and disaggregation of micro- and nano-plastics in soils, their impacts and further behaviour in soils (including soil physics) (sub-scope B);
  • Quantify the economic, environmental and social consequences of unsustainable soil management in different biogeographical regions (sub-scopes A and B);
  • Contribute towards understanding, management and conservation of soil biodiversity for the global soil assessment (sub-scope A);

In the long term, funded activities will contribute to European and international soil biodiversity assessments such as initiatives under the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.