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Soil Transformations in European Catchments

Final Report Summary - SOILTREC (Soil Transformations in European Catchments)

Executive Summary:
The SoilTrEC project delivered advances in the field of Soil Processes and Modelling. The aim is to provide scientific evidence and technical advances to support policy objectives of the EU Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection; namely to develop a scientific framework to quantify soil functions and threats and design methods for improving soil functions.
The research challenge was framed with 2 overarching hypotheses: 1) that soil functions are impacted by increasing intensity and longevity of human use of soils, and 2) that changes in soil structure, particularly the mass fraction of large physically stable soil aggregates, resulting from human activity are a principle metric to define impacts on soil functions.
The research objectives stated in the project description of work are:
1. Describe from 1st principles how soil structure impacts soil processes and functions,
2. Establish 4 EU Critical Zone Observatories to study soil processes at field scale,
3. Develop a Critical Zone Integrated Model (ICZM) of soil processes and functions,
4. Create a GIS-based framework to assess soil threats and mitigation at EU scale,
5. Quantify impacts of changing land use, climate and biodiversity on soil function and value,
6. Form with international partners a global network of CZOs for soils research, and
7. Deliver a programme of public outreach and research transfer on soil sustainability.

The research design defined the soil functions of biomass production, carbon storage, water filtration and storage, nutrient transformations, and maintaining habitat and functional biodiversity. Soil functions were defined by processes that are integrated within the larger environmental system of Earth’s Critical Zone (CZ); the thin planetary layer from the top of the vegetation to the bottom of aquifers that supplies most life sustaining resources.
A network of Critical Zone Observatories as research field sites were selected to represent 4 stages of a conceptual life cycle of soil functions; 1) soil formation, productive use of soil in 2) forestry and 3) arable agriculture, and 4) degraded soils under threat of desertification.
The principal deliverable is a computational model to simulate soil functions as flows and transformations of material, energy and biodiversity within the stages of the soil function life cycle.

International leaders in soils and CZ research who composed the SoilTrEC independent advisory board identified 5 headline achievements for the SoilTrEC project.
1. Comprehensive data sets on soil profiles and process model parameters establishes essential baseline data sets for all future EU work on soil threats and soil functions.
2. A validated comprehensive process model of soil functions establishes a formalised state-of-knowledge as a platform for future soil process and function studies worldwide.
3. A quantitative methodology for upscaling soil functions and soil threats from CZO to maps at regional scale demonstrates the application for upscaling to European scale.
4. Metrics for sustainable use of soil functions: whole-life energy costs, life cycle assessment, and economic valuation expand the decision-support toolkit for land use and soil management
5. An international network of SoilTrEC CZOs demonstrates that Earth’s CZ is a powerful interdisciplinary framework for adapting human activities to environmental change.
The legacy of the project is a computational framework to simulate soil functions and assess threats and design restoration and sustainable soil management practices, an upscaling methodology to map soil threats and functions and novel decision support methods for policy applications, and an international network of Critical Zone Observatories to study and test solutions for human adaptation to environmental change.

Project Context and Objectives:
Increasing human population and wealth is creating unprecedented pressure on Earth’s land and water resources. By 2050 it is predicted that the human population will approach 10 billion with a quadrupling in the global economy, a doubling in the demand for food and fuel, and a more than 50% increase in demand for clean water [1].
These resource demands must be met while mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change and declining biodiversity, and under the constraint of limited available land. The most recent IPCC report [2] predicts that global agricultural production is likely to decline during the coming decades due to insufficient water supply in regions of agricultural production. A 2014 UNEP study Assessing Global Land Use [3] calculates that to meet demand for food by 2050, Earth’s productive land area must increase by 320-850 Mha; estimated to be 10-45% greater than Earth’s environmental capacity.
As a policy response to these pressing challenges, in 2006 the European Commission published the Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection [4]. The strategy identifies a specific policy need for the EU to address the threats to soil posed by the pressures of increasing resource demands, and the environmental constraints for the essential soil functions to deliver continued benefits for the EU economy and society.
The strategy defines soil as the layer of unconsolidated material that extends from the land surface to the underlying bedrock. This definition strongly parallels the scientific concept of Earth’s Critical Zone (Figure 3.1) the thin planetary layer that extends from the top of the tree canopy to the bottom of drinking water aquifers that supplies most life sustaining resources.

Figure 3.1. Earth’s Critical Zone (CZ) provides humans with most of their life-sustaining resources. Soil is at the heart of the CZ. Soil processes produce flows and transformations of material, energy and genetic information. These flows define the soil functions of benefit to humans, including: production of food, fibre and fuel; storage, transmission and filtration of water; storage of carbon; transformation of nutrients; maintaining habitat and supporting biodiversity [5].
The SoilTrEC research hypotheses are that 1) the development of soil functions can be described by a conceptual life cycle of soil functions that is driven by intensification of land use, and that 2) deterioration or improvement in soil functions can be described by quantifying how soil processes change with soil structure along the life cycle [6].

The research objectives of the SoilTrEC project are to:
1. Describe from 1st principles how soil structure impacts soil processes and functions,
2. Establish 4 EU Critical Zone Observatories to study soil processes at field scale,
3. Develop a Critical Zone Integrated Model (ICZM) of soil processes and functions,
4. Create a GIS-based framework to assess soil threats and mitigation at EU scale,
5. Quantify impacts of changing land use, climate and biodiversity on soil function and value,
6. Form with international partners a global network of CZOs for soils research, and
7. Deliver a programme of public outreach and research transfer on soil sustainability.

Each research objective was met through an associated research work package. An eighth work package delivered project management. The overarching experimental design is to quantify soil structure and process at research field sites that are Critical Zone Observatories (CZOs) located along a gradient of land use disturbance that defines a conceptual life cycle of soil functions (Figure 3.2) [7].
1. The Damma Glacier CZO, Switzerland, allows the study of incipient soil formation in the glacial forefield as the glacier retreats, exposing the underlying bedrock. A chronosequence on the order of centuries allows the earliest stages of soil formation to be observed.
2. The Lysina-Slavkov Forest CZO, Czech Republic, allows the study of soil processes during managed forest land use for intensive silvaculture.
3. The Fuchsenbigl-Marchfeld CZO, Austria, allows the study of soil processes during managed arable land use for production agriculture.
4. The Koiliaris River CZO, Crete, allows the study of highly degraded soils that have experienced millennia of intensive agricultural land use, including grazing, and is under additional threat from desertification due to modern climate change.

Headline Achievements
The project advisory board identified 5 headline achievements for the SoilTrEC project.
1. SoilTrEC produced comprehensive data sets on soil profiles and process model parameter sets in 4 CZOs as references sites representing key land uses in the EU, with published meta-data for 170 soil profiles [Table 1] [6]. The results provide an essential database for mathematical model initialisation and upscaling, scaling algorithms, and quantification of soil functions at reference sites, and establish an essential baseline data set for all future work on soil threats and soil functions in the EU.
2. SoilTrEC delivered a validated comprehensive process model of soil functions in Earth’s Critical Zone with quantified soil functions as material flows and transformation rates in 9 EU, USA and China reference sites. The conceptual and mathematical model establishes a formalised state-of-knowledge on soil functions as a platform for future soil process studies worldwide. The model application quantified the benefits of soil functions from carbon amendments for soil restoration and agriculture intensification, and established a quantitative modelling tool for “soil sustainability by design”
3. SoilTrEC established a quantitative methodology for upscaling soil functions and soil threats from CZO to regional scale and demonstrated the application for upscaling to European scale. The methodology creates geospatial data (maps) of soil functions and soil threats for policy decisions; i.e. trade-offs to achieve land degradation neutrality
4. SoilTrEC evaluated metrics for sustainable use of soil functions and trade-offs: energy return on investment – whole life energy flow balance, Life Cycle Assessment – global impact on soil functions as an endpoint indicator in product LCA (the burden on soil), novel application of economic valuation of multiple soil functions, and biophysical flows and transformations of material, energy and functional groups of organisms. The project carried out field validation of these metrics as components of a decision-support toolkit for land use and soil management
5. SoilTrEC established an international network of CZOs in collaboration with USA and China and demonstrated Critical Zone science as a powerful interdisciplinary framework for adapting human activities to environmental change [8]. The results substantially raised the CZO science policy agenda to a high international level through interaction with the EC, UNEP, NSF USA, NSF China, Germany, France, Australia and the Belmont Forum.
The integration of the field data and mathematical process models provides quantitative analysis of soil process rates at 12 CZOs representing a wide range of environmental conditions worldwide. Comparison of process rates and parameter values allow the initial hypotheses to be tested (Figure 3.3).

Figure 3.3. The life cycle of soil functions at the centre of the diagram proceeds, from parent material that is exposed or deposited at Earth’s surface, through soil profile development, establishment of a terrestrial ecosystem, development of rural land as an asset for forestry and agricultural production, and eventually (not studied in SoilTrEC) urban development. Gradients in soil state across the 4 sites increase mean temperature from 4-18oC, clay content from 3-30%, and litter decomposition rate constants from 1-15 y-1. The large open arrows represent the carbon flux balance in units of t C ha-y-1.
A major advance of SoilTrEC is to define soil state along the conceptual life cycle of soil functions in terms of material and energy flows and transformation rates. Example results of model calculations with the Integrated Critical Zone Model (Figure 3.3) define a flux balance for carbon inputs (photosynthetic fixation, shown at left of open arrows), carbon storage (shown at bottom of open arrows) and carbon emissions (from organic matter mineralisation, shown at top of open arrows). Initial stages show carbon storage while intensively farmed and degraded soils show loss of stored soil carbon with emissions greater than inputs.
Soil structure development is reflected in rate constants (kmacro, Figure 3.3) for macroaggregate (size>250µm) formation from decomposing plant litter within the life cycle where increasing carbon input generally correlates with more rapid macroaggregate production. Although carbon inputs are not particularly high for the degraded soils at the Koiliaris CZO, soil structure development is favoured due to the high clay content. The modelling results led to 2 key metrics of soil function performance. The first is the mass % of soil macroaggregates where a value of 60% is the target threshold. The second accounts for both role of organic matter to favour aggregate formation and accounts for the additional role of clay and silt particles. The 2nd metric is defined by the ratio of soil organic carbon content (SOC) normalised to the content of the clay and silt soil texture size fractions (SOC/(clay+silt)) with a ratio value of 5.5 for the target threshold.
SoilTrEC has established a new methodology for “soil sustainability by design” that utilises computational simulation that is integrated with field site data and hypothesised scenarios for improved soil management practice. The methodology is demonstrated for two scenarios of restoring soil functions that have been degraded by 35 years of vegetable production that utilised 1) light tillage and 2) intensive tillage [9]. The results tracked loss of SOC and soil structure during the 35 years. Improvements following light tillage demonstrate that carbon amendments of 5 t/ha-y for 7 years can achieve soil sustainability indicator thresholds, achieving 70% mass as water-stable macroaggregates and an SOC/(clay+silt) ratio of 5.5. Achieving sustainability thresholds following 35 years of production with intensive tillage required 12 t/ha-y of carbon amendment. An important advance of the ICZM is that multiple soil functions are simulated simultaneously. For carbon amendments, the model also calculated increased fluxes of dissolved organic carbon and nitrate to groundwater. Hence synergies and trade-offs between soil functions (food production, carbon storage and water filtration) during the computational design are scoped out and alternative soil management practices can be compared.
SoilTrEC delivered one of the first monetary valuations of multiple soil functions as decision support for soil sustainability by design. A pilot study for valuation of 3 soil functions under current land use practices at the Koiliaris CZO estimated total values of 1‐278 ID$/ha-yr for the filtering of nutrients and contaminants, a total cost of 2,200 – 5,610 ID$/ha-yr for climate regulation through carbon storage and 740 – 7560 ID$/ha-yr for biomass production [10].
SoilTrEC has established a tested platform for soil protection and restoration that integrates 1) comprehensive measurements at field observatories as reference study sites, 2) mechanistic process models of multiple, interacting soil functions, and 3) monetary valuation methods for soil functions that provide both market and non-market metrics for improvement in soil functions. Furthermore, methods for upscaling primary data and derived data from model calculations, produce geospatial information (maps) of soil functions, soil threats, and soil restoration potential, for policy support on management practices from local to regional and EU scales. The following sections highlight the achievements for each work package.

[1] Banwart et al. (2014). Ch. 1 in Soil Carbon, SCOPE Vol. 71, CABI, UK. [2] IPCC (2014). Climate Change 2014 synthesis report. [3] UNEP (2014) Assessing global land use: balancing consumption with sustainable supply, UNEP, Nairobi. [4] European Commission (2006). COM(2006)231, EC, Brussels. [5] Banwart et al. (2013). Sustaining Earth’s Critical Zone. U. Sheffield, ISBN 978-0-9576890-0-8. [6] Banwart et al. (2011). Vadose Zone J., 10, 974–987. [7] Banwart et al. (2013). Comptes Rendus Geoscience, 344, 758-772. [8] Banwart (2011). Nature,474,151–152. [9] Nikolaidis et al. (2014). Integration Report on Field Applications to CZOs, SoilTrEC deliverable D3.4. [10] D. Maia de Souza (2014). Workshop report for dissemination and consensus building, SoilTrEC deliverable D5.6.

Project Results:
Main Scientific and Technical Results/Foreground (25 pages),

3.3.1 Work Package 1 - Soil structure and function from first principles
Work package objectives for the project
The aim of WP1 is to develop models that can describe the physical, chemical and biological processes that account for the key soil functions.

Specific objectives are as follows:
• Characterize by measurements the development, composition and the stability of soil aggregates and their size distribution within soil profiles,
• Characterize the soil mineralogy, mineral chemistry, microbiology and microbial community structure,
• Develop mathematical process models that can simulate aggregate formation and stability from first principles of soil physics, physical chemistry, carbon transformation kinetics and ecological theory,
• Apply these process models in order to gain a basic understanding of the processes involved in aggregate formation and stability and the role of aggregate properties in soil functions from molecular- to soil profile- scale
• Contribute process descriptions, parameter values and model results to the other work packages.

Brief description of key results and achievements for the project
Key achievements led by Work Package 1 are the following.
1. Soil physical quality indicators were derived from the Soil Water Retention Curve (SWRC) data of the soil profiles characterising the European SoilTrEC Critical Zone Observatories [1,2,6].
2. A new conceptual model describes the physical-chemical interactions at the different size scales and their relation with aggregates and porosity [4,5].
3. Because of its high functionality, soil biological properties have been studied for their indicative value for soil quality. The micro-arthropod diversity was found to consistently respond to human induced stress.

Soil profile characterization
Soil cores from 18 sites (54 soil profiles, 203 sampling depths) sampled at the four SoilTrEC European CZOs were characterised for physical, (geo)chemical and (micro)biological factors. Soil structure was evaluated through the size, configuration and distribution of soil aggregates and pores. Soil geochemistry and biological characteristics needed for modelling were also evaluated. Soil profile data interpretation enhanced our understanding of the rates of biogeochemical processes and trends in these under different management and environmental conditions across the CZOs.
Soil physical quality indicators
Soil water retention is of primary importance for the majority of soil functions. The estimated parameter values of the equation for the SWRC are directly related to soil structure and the soil water regime and can be used as indicators for soil physical quality. The results showed that most of the studied topsoil horizons have good physical quality according to both the S-parameter and the Plant-Available Water content (PAW) (Fig. 2.1.). It was found that values of S ≥ 0.05 correspond to PAW > 20 % vol. in the topsoil horizons. The high values of S in subsoil horizons are due to the low PAW and restrict the application of the S categories in these cases. Well defined links are found between the PAW content and the S-parameter when the data from the topsoil horizons are grouped in 2 groups according to the ratio between air-filled pores (at pF 2.52) and plant available water: <2 and ≥ 2. Generally, the values of S parameters are related to transmission properties of the soil connected with the presence of structural pores.

Fig. 2.1. Soil quality index S (slope at the inflection point of soil water retention curves) along all 54 studied soil profiles at Damma glacier (D), Slavkov forest (S), Koiliaris (K) and Marchfeld (M) CZO. .
Soil physical-chemical processes and soil structure
The interactions between soil physical-chemical processes and soil structure at different size scales were assessed (Fig. 2.2.) and a mechanistic conceptual model of aggregate formation was proposed (Fig. 2.3.)

Figure 2.2. The fraction of water-stable macroaggregates (WSA, size>0.25 mm), as a function of the soil organic carbon (SOC) content and the amorphous Fe-(hydr)oxide content (Feox) in the Marchfeld, Koiliaris and Slavkov Forest CZO.

Fig. 2.3. Conceptual picture of aggregate formation and the linkages between the soil aggregates and porosity. WSA = water-stable aggregates, DSA = dry-sieved aggregates, Feox= oxalate-extractable Fe, SOC = soil organic carbon

Microbial diversity and functional guilds in soil aggregate fractions
Microbial diversity (bacteria, archaea, Fungi) and functional guilds related to N transformations in soil aggregate fractions ranging from <0.250 to 10 mm) were studied using q-PCR. Example results (Figure 2.4) show significant difference between size fractions and land use types. Additional investigations are being carried out using pyrosequencing (awaiting results).

Figure 2.4 Variation in gene abundance of bacteria (16S rRNA gene) between bulk soil [g-1] and 6 different aggregates sizes fractions [g-1] from 4 different land uses in Marchfeld CZO.
Practical relevance of the results and key dissemination materials and activities
Soil characterisation data at profile scale was applied to develop mathematical models from 1st principles linking soil structure to physical, chemical and biological processes. These models contributed to process descriptions, parameter values and model results to the other work packages that produced 1) conceptual and mathematical models for soil processes at the CZOs (WP2) and 2) the ICZM) that was applied across all CZOs (WP3).

[1] Kercheva M. et al. (2012) 4th International Congress EUROSOIL, p. 2654.
[2] Kercheva M. et al. (2015) Advances in Agronomy (in preparation)
[3] Menon M. et al. (2015) Functional microbial biodiversity in soil aggregates, in preparation.
[4] Regelink et al. (2013) Mineralogical Magazine, 77(5) 2038
[5] Regelink I. et al. (2015) GEODERMA (in review)
[6] Rousseva S. et al. (2014) Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 16, EGU2014-5970.
3.3.2 Work Package 2 – Soil process studies at Critical Zone Observatories

Work package objectives for the project
By studying soil processes and function within the critical zone at field and catchment scale at selected European field sites, we achieved the following aims:
• SoilTrEC established a harmonised network of European field sites as Critical Zone Observatories (CZOs) for soil processes research.
• This enhanced knowledge of soil processes and dynamics under conditions associated with different stages of the soil life cycle, as represented by the different CZOs.
• Relevant soil process models were identified and their data needs assessed, both in terms of required input data and model parameters/rate constants.
• Targeted field measurements at small plot and catchment scale at each of the four main CZO’s provided the essential, harmonised data for the soil process models.
• The soil process models are applied and tested with the data from the CZOs and the results interpreted in relation to soil functions at key stages of the soil lifecycle.
• The project experience provides an important overview of measurements and long-term monitoring requirements within a - global - network of CZOs that are necessary to meet EU policy objectives in relation to the Soil Thematic Strategy. It further identified the required characteristics for a long term data repository for CZO data.

Brief description of key results and achievements for the project
Key achievements led by Work Package 2 are the following.
1. SoilTrEC pooled together existing field research sites into a European Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) network and as part of a global CZO network. The coordinated plot and pilot scale research within WP2 built new understanding of soil processes at the four main sites [1,2]. These sites represent a breadth of conditions associated with different stages of the soil life cycle. This provoked further development of models with respect to functionality and more sophisticated calibration of process models for soil structure dynamics [3] carbon dynamics [4], catchment hydrology [5,6] and food web dynamics [7] and describes soil processes across the 4 main CZOs.
2. In spite of the enormous range in environmental conditions represented by the CZO network, the range of processes encountered at the sites could be consistently represented by a basic set of soil process models. This achievement allowed the development of site conceptual models to design field measurement campaigns and was instrumental in guiding the development of the Integrated CZ Model led by WP3.
3. The experience within SoilTrEC contributes to benchmarking on i) the practice of reviewing existing field research data, ii) building datasets and models around a core of common data, and iii) the use of modelling to drive data harmonisation and standardisation [8].
Plot and catchment scale field studies
Although the field studies were aimed at collecting similar data for all CZOs and the application of a common set of soil process models, CZO-specific research questions and detailed experimental design brought focus to each individual study. Damma CZO allowed the study of a chronosequence of incipient soil formation. Lysina-Slavkov Forest allowed the study of a gradient in parent material lithology. Fuchsenbigl-Marchfeld allowed the study of a chronosequence of soil formation since the last glaciation as well as a gradient of land use intensity across forest, grassland and arable land. The Koiliaris CZO provides studies of climosequences along the elevation gradient, land use gradients from natural to grazed and arable land and across gradients of parent material lithology. These studies allowed the development of a conceptual model for soil processes at each of the CZOs (Figure 3.2.1).

Figure 3.2 (A-D) A. The Damma Glacier located in the central Swiss Alps. The glacier retreat since 1850 has formed a chronosequence of soil formation on the bedrock that is exposed in the glacier forefield. B. The Lysina CZO is located in northwestern Czech Republic, in the Slavkov Forest with Norway spruce (Picea abies) monoculture and with nearby sister catchments of similar land use but differing lithology. C. Productive agricultural soil at the Fuchsenbigl-Marchfeld CZO, located in the Danube River floodplain downstream of Vienna, Austria. D. The Koiliaris CZO, Crete, Greece, extends 25km inland from the coast to elevations over 2000m. Soil degradation occurs from water erosion, due to the landscape relief and clearing of forests and natural vegetation for cropping and livestock grazing.
Soil process modelling
The CZO modelling led to further developments of the Penn State Integrated Hydrologic Model (PIHM), with incorporation of functionality for karstic fracture flow (Koiliaris CZO) and fracture flow anisotropy (Damma CZO). The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) modelling showed the CZOs to mainly differ in hydraulic conductivity, how fast rainfall results in runoff, and in soil moisture capacity. Application of the Rothamsted Carbon (Roth-C) model and the Carbon, Aggregation, and Structure Turnover (CAST) model showed carbon sequestration fluxes to be low or even as a source of carbon emissions for old cultivated soils (Koiliaris) and high for new soils (Damma), where the latter site also had very high turnover rates. The Ligand Charge Distribution (LCD) modelling focussed on the calcareous floodplain soils of Fuchsenbigl/Marchfeld CZO. There it revealed that the competition between phosphate and soil organic matter for adsorption sites on Fe-(hydr)oxides explains differences in C-sequestration capacity between forest soils and agricultural soils. In forest soils the adsorption sites are completely occupied by SOM whereas in arable soils they are saturated with phosphate. The Terrestrial Ecology Model (TEM) modelled C and N mineralisation rates and compared these to measured data. This required site specific calibration of the microbial turnover rates, which are sensitive to environmental conditions. TEM predicted CO2 emission rates in the same order of magnitude as the CAST model, although the predictions between and within sites by the two models were not similar. Only the relatively low C mineralisation rates at the Damma CZO were confirmed by both models.
Data standardisation and archiving
The first step was an inventory of the existing data and monitoring efforts for all CZOs and satellite sites. This was followed by the generation of a more uniform database through the soil profile sampling and analysis for the four main CZOs that were performed within WP1, and for which sampling and analytical procedures were well documented. The next step was the selection of common soil process models and the collection of the necessary data for each CZO (where not yet available).
Experiences within SoilTrEC showed that the use of common data archives and models steers towards increased standardisation. However, there is a need for greater cyber infrastructure support on the European scale to facilitate CZO data archiving for the future, and better delineation of the roles and responsibilities of the various parties involved.
Practical relevance of the results and key dissemination materials and activities
The extensive set of research results contribute to the strength of the global CZ network and community. The soil process models as tested and further developed can be applied in scenario studies to assess the effects of different land management practices. Focussing research effort on CZOs was particularly useful from the point of view of dissemination. At Damma, a climate audio trail “Gletscherblüte und Zeitreise” was developed (in collaboration with myclimate and Wasserwelten Göschenen ( It has nine stops and leads around the Göscheneralpsee and Damma glacial forefield. There are separate versions for adults and children. At Koiliaris, the local population was involved in the tomato-plot experiment and at several locations within the catchment, information boards have been placed to explain about the research to the wider public.

[1] Banwart, S., et al. (2012). Comptes Rendus Geoscience, 344(11), 758-772.
[2] Menon, M., et al. (2014). Environmental Science and Poll. Research, 21(4), 3191-3195.
[3] Stamati et al. (2013). Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 165, 190-200.
[4] Rampazzo Todorovic et al. (2014). Catena, 121, 53-67.
[5] Yu et al (2014). Journal of Hydrology, 97-106.
[6] Shrestha et al. (2014). EGU General Assembly Conference Abstracts, Vol. 16, p.6043).
[7] van Leeuwen et al. (2015). Soil, 1, 83-101.,
[8] van der Star W. and van Gaans P. (2014). SoilTrEC project report Deliverable D2.5.

3.3.3 Work Package 3 – Developing a Critical Zone – Integrated Model of Soil Functions

Work package objectives for the project

The objectives of Work Package 3 were the following:
• Constructing an Open Source integrated process model of soil formation and loss and soil functions in the Critical Zone (CZ-Integrated Model)
• Development of up-scaling methods for Critical Zone simulations at catchment and regional scales
• Field validation of the CZ-Integrated Model across a range of scales
• Evaluation of the sustainability and longevity of soil functions by modeling soil function at the stages of the soil life cycle represented by the 4 SoilTrEC CZOs.
• Provision of a validated CZ-Integrated Model for application across a global network of field sites

All objectives have been achieved and the 5 Deliverables have been completed successfully and on-time.

Brief description of key results and achievements for the project
Key achievements led by Work Package 3 are the following.
1. The 1D-ICZ model is the first model available in the scientific literature that can simulate nutrient sequestration dynamics, their turnover time, plant-soil-micro-organism interactions as well as changes soil structure dynamics and dynamic changes in soil hydraulic properties [1-5].
2. The 1D-ICZ model can simulate all major soil functions including biomass production, carbon and nutrient sequestration, maintaining soil biodiversity and water filtration and transformation and thus is capable of quantifying soil ecosystem services. The model can be used as a tool to demonstrate "sustainability by design" land management measures and support sustainable land care practices [6-9].
3. The application of the ICZ model to sites that spread around Europe, Asia and the North America cover all major climatic gradients and attested to the universality of the model to assess soil functions and soil threats around the globe [10-11].

The primary aim of this work package was to develop a tractable and defensible mathematical model, the 1D Integrated Critical Zone Model (ICZM) that links the development and loss of soil structure to water flow and solute transport, plant growth and nutrient dynamics, carbon dynamics and biodiversity. Models of flow and transport (Hydrus 1D); bioturbation; chemical equilibria and weathering kinetics, SAFE; C/N/P dynamics and aggregate formation, CAST; and vegetation dynamics, PROSUM, were integrated to formulate the 1D-ICZ Model. The ICZM was validated using data derived from plot experiments where tomato plants were grown using commercial fertilizers, compost, manure and a 30% manure - 70% compost amendment. Detailed data have been collected over four growing seasons on soil and soil solution chemistry, aggregate formation, and plant production. These data were used to calibrate the 1D-ICZM for the different treatments. The model was able to capture the dynamics of the water-stable macroaggregate formation, and the carbon and nutrient sequestration in the different sized aggregates (see Figure 3.1) and variability of water filtration and solute transformation efficiency in the different treatments.

The model has been able to simulate the carbon fluxes (Above-ground Net Primary Production, Soil Organic Carbon Sequestration, Biomass and Fauna Carbon Increase, CO2 Production), soil structure indicators (% Water Stable Macroaggregates Increase, % Bulk Density Decrease) and carbon and nutrients (NO3, PO4, K) that leach to groundwater. The concept of sustainable use of soil suggests that soil functions can improve due to management practices.

Figure 3.1: Simulated evolution (plotted lines) of soil organic carbon (total SOC, aggregate sizes d<50mm, 50mm250mm plus the coarse particulate organic matter in 4 experiments: the inorganic fertilization (IF), municipal solid waste compost (MSWC), manure (M) and mixture (70/30) treatment. Symbols are plotted values of measurements.

These data can be used to assess the improvement of soil functions due to carbon amendment compared to inorganic fertilization. There are trade-offs that have to be taken under consideration when managing soil functions. Even though carbon amendments improve significantly most of soil functions, they contribute adversely to groundwater nutrient pollution. In addition, increases up to 50% have been observed in the CO2 fluxes to the atmosphere compared with the inorganic fertilization. This suggests that the amount of carbon amendment to the soil has to be studied in order to optimize the benefits and the impacts it has to soil functions and elemental fluxes respectively.

Data from 10 sites, the 4 EU CZOs (Koiliaris CZO, Damma Glacier CZO, Lysina CZO and Marchfeld CZO) together with five additional satellite CZOs (Plynlimon-UK, Kindla-Sweden, Strengbach-France, Clear Creek-USA and Black Soils-China) and an additional site in Crete, Greece (MILIA) (the site had unique chronosequence data for a carbon addition cultivated soil) were used for the integration of modelling results. The 0D version (a single layer in a soil profile) and the 1D version of the ICZ model have been applied to these sites and their results were assessed in a comprehensive way in order to deduce their state of soil function and/or degradation. The application of the ICZ model to sites that spread around Europe and cover all major climatic zones as well as the application to China's black soil and the US Clear Creek CZO attested to the generality of the conceptual and mathematical model to represent the stages of the life cycle for soil functions, and to assess soil functions and soil threats when parameterised for local conditions.

A unique feature of the 1D-ICZ model is its capability to simulate dynamically soil structure and soil hydraulic property changes as a function of time by having incorporated new pedotransfer functions. A simulation was performed using the Olive grove at Koiliaris CZO to evaluate the impact of carbon addition to soil hydraulic properties. Carbon amendment enhanced the biomass production, carbon sequestration and also improved soil structure through macro-aggregates’ increase and bulk density reduction. On the other hand, leaching of nitrates was almost doubled as OC leaching tripled. The organic carbon input in the soil increased the saturated water capacity of the soil and reduced the hydraulic conductivity. The impact of tilling on the values of the hydraulic conductivity is very evident and it is fully simulated by the model. This is the first simulation in the scientific literature that shows the impact of carbon addition on the dynamics of soil structure and changes in the hydraulic properties of the soil.

Practical relevance of the results and key dissemination materials and activities for the project

In this work package, the first model available in the scientific literature was developed that can simulate all major soil functions including biomass production, carbon and nutrient sequestration, maintaining soil biodiversity and water filtration and solute transformation and thus is capable of quantifying soil ecosystem services. The 1D-ICZ model can simulate soil structure dynamics as well as changes in soil hydraulic properties together with nutrient dynamics and plant-soil-micro-organism interactions. The application of the ICZM to sites around Europe, Asia and North America cover all major climatic gradients and attest to the universality of the model to assess soil functions and soil threats around the globe. The model can be used as a tool to carry out "sustainability by design" by designing computational experiments that simulate hypothesised improvements in land management practices and that can support sustainable soil functions.

Five training workshop events were organized as part of SoilTrEC project. The aim of the workshops was to train primarily SoilTrEC researchers on how to use the modeling tools that were used and were developed by the modeling team of the project. These workshops were open to other researchers and in this way SoilTrEC project members benefitted from the cross-fertilization interaction with other projects. More than 150 scientists were trained in these workshops. The results of this work package have been published in 15 peer-reviewed scientific journal papers, 8 peer-reviewed conference proceedings and 17 presentations at international conferences.

[1] Stamati et al. (2013). Geoderma, 211, 51-64; [2] Stamati et al. (2013). Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 165, 190-200; [3] Nikolaidis and Bidoglio (2013). Sustainable Agriculture Reviews, 12, 175-200; [4] Nikolaidis et al. (2012). SoilTrEC technical report Deliverable 3.1; [5] Nikolaidis et al. (2013). SoilTrEC technical report Deliverable 3.2; [6] Giannakis, G., et al. (2014). Procedia Earth and Planetary Science 10, 325-329; [7] Kotronakis el at. (2015). Modeling the Impact of Carbon Addition to Soil Functions Using the 1D-ICZ Model, (In Preparation); [8] Giannakis et al. (2015). Dynamic Simulation of Soil Properties and Structure using the Integrated Critical Zone Model (1D-ICZ), (In Preparation); [9] SoilTReC Deliverable 3.2; [10] Panakoulia S. (2015). "Cross-Site Model Simulation Comparison of Soil Functions Using the CAST Model" (In Preparation); [11] Nikolaidis e al. (2014). SoilTrEC technical report Deliverable 3.4.

3.3.4 Work Package 4 – Upscaling to assess European soil threats

Work package objectives for the project
Throughout the SoilTrEC Project, WP4 developed models and produced numerous maps and data as part of the deliverables (4.1 to 4.7). All the datasets were successfully included in the data flow among the work packages to be part of project activities. The Work Package 4 (WP4) has mainly focused on mapping and upscaling the soil data to assess EU soil functions and soil threats. WP4 developed a hierarchical process meta-model for mapping and upscaling soil data from field scale to regional scale and moreover to European Scale. WP4 also studied the incorporation of smaller scale data into the larger European Soil Information System.
Furthermore, the WP4 established a Proof-of-Concept for methodology to assess soil threats and impacts at European level and for better delineation of soil risk areas. The WP4 has developed models in a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) platform to fulfil the above-mentioned actions. To carry out these studies, digital soil mapping techniques were used to predict key soil properties in the CZOs and to transfer processes from CZOs as small reference areas to larger regions.
EC DG Joint Research Centre researchers team which led WP4 have developed a modelling framework which is fully integrated in the Multi-scale European Soil Information System (MEUSIS) Framework and European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC) (Figure 4.1).

Figure 4.1 WP4 Activities and Beneficiaries.

The European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC) in JRC is collecting, hosting and serving regional, national and continental datasets and acts as the primary data contact point for the European Commission's soil data and information. ESDAC serves raw point data (LUCAS) as well as modelled datasets (soil organic carbon, soil erosion, compaction etc.). In addition to data management, ESDAC also works on numerical models to improve soil data interoperability to address and solve different problems at different scales developing the Multi-Scale Soil Information System (MEUSIS). The WP4 has integrated the soil organic carbon modelling platform (Data management, Mapping, Modelling and Upscaling) into MEUSIS and ESDAC for the needs of SoilTrEC project (Fig. 4.1).

Brief description of key results and achievements for the project

The key achievements of the project that were led by Work Package 4 are
1. Development of GIS-based modelling platform for upscaling point observations at regional and European scale maps of soil threats and functions,
2. High resolution maps of current soil organic carbon content (%) and stocks incorporating future predictions (year 2050) based on land use and climate scenarios, and
3. The soil erosion risk estimation with the G2 model in Crete was 8.1 t/ha annually and the total lateral C (carbon) flux due to soil erosion estimated with CENTURY model was 0.012 Mt for the agricultural soils.

The WP4 has developed a meta-model for mapping and upscaling the soil function and soil threats. The application of the meta-model contributes to new maps and datasets of soil functions and threats (better delineation of risk areas) which are incorporated in the European Soil Data Centre. The studies are mainly focused on soil organic carbon (SOC) modelling because SOC is an important aspect of soil quality and plays a very important role in soil productivity, environmental protection, and food safety. Moreover, SOC is the largest part of the terrestrial carbon cycle. Digital soil mapping techniques produced SOC Maps for the CZOs (Koiliaris, Damma Glacier, Lysina, and Fuchsenbigl). The meta-model upscaled the soil information from the CZOs as reference sites to regional scale (Crete, Bohemia and North East Austria) while a regression kriging model predicted SOC stocks at European Scale and projected SOC changes based on land use and climatic scenarios.

Figure 4.2 Workflow for the WP4 Modelling activity. SoilTrEC pioneered the use of high quality field data from CZOs a small reference sites to inform upscaling meta-models to transfer information on soil functions and soil threat to regional and EU scale.

In addition to SOC modelling studies, WP4 also modelled other soil threats which are related to land degradation (soil erosion, soil sealing) and produced valuable data and maps of the CZOs and broader areas. The CZO experimental design allowed WP4 model testing, fine tuning and validation. Finally, WP4 has coupled the soil erosion outputs with SOC models and estimated the carbon fluxes due to erosive processes. The JRC researchers implemented widely accepted digital soil mapping techniques (Kriging, Regression Kriging) and suggested also new approaches like reference area method to transfer the CZO knowledge to larger areas (Geographic Regions, EU) (Figure 4.2).
The available measured point observations (LUCAS Soil, CZO Measurements, Biosoil) are modelled with covariates (terrain, land cover, climate) using a GIS-based model consisting of two components. The “Upscaling” module interpolates the point data with an objective to develop maps at large scales (country, EU) while the ‘Knowledge Transfer’ module applies the developed spatial interpolation rules of CZOs at regional level (Fig. 4.2). The combined results of the two modules are maps of soil threats and functions at different scales (CZO, catchment, Regions, Country, European).

Practical relevance of the results and key dissemination materials and activities for the project
WP4’s modelling applications are led by researchers within the European Commission DG Joint Research Center. The applications have produced a large amount of data on soil functions and threats in different scales (CZO, Regional and European). The proposed meta-model reduced uncertainty and allows better delineation of the risk areas. The more precise assessment of soil threats and their geospatial variation will allow making cost-benefit estimation of the policy scenarios for mitigation strategies.
The results give a significant input for improved estimation in local (CZO), regional level and further in European Scale. The model application produces new databases and maps which improve the current status of European Soil Information System in the European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC) and makes predictions of future land use and climatic scenarios. ESDAC is the thematic centre for soil related data in Europe hosting soil data and information for soil threats and functions and distributing them to soil researchers and policy makers.
The modelling platform developed by the WP4 Researchers is a GIS-based framework that can be easily repeated in different CZOs, regions and different time scales. Moreover, this modelling framework can be extended to host other soil functions and threats. All this fits to the JRC work programme objectives as a research based policy support organisation; JRC translates scientific outputs into policy to mitigate risk by taking decisions on land use, water management and agricultural practices.
The results of this work package have been published in 6 peer-review scientific journal articles with a further 1 in review and 2 submitted, and 8 peer-reviewed conference proceedings. The results of the WP4 have been also disseminated with the European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC) Newsletter to 3,780 scientists (November 2013). The soil erosion dataset in Crete has been published in ESDAC after a peer review process and have been download by 40 registered users. After the peer review and acceptance of rest of articles, the modelled data will be available in ESDAC:

[1] Yigini and Panagos (2015). Advances in Agronomy or Geoderma, in preparation.
[2] Panagos et al. (2014). Int’l J. App. Earth Obs. and Geoinform., 27, Part B, 147–155.

3.3.5 Work Package 5 – Quantifying soil function impacts in Decision Support Tools

Work package objectives for the project

Work Package 5 has met all the objectives during the SoilTrEC FP7 Project. These include the integration of soil process model results into an environmental decision-making assessment framework as life cycle assessment (LCA). Soil function impacts were quantified and made available in LCA, for the island of Crete, under the impact category “land use”. Furthermore, a framework for monetary valuation of multiple soil services has been proposed and an initial set of quantifiable indicators for soil function impacts was defined, based on expert judgement and involvement of local farmers.

WP5 linked to WP4 capability to better delineate soil risk zones and integrated the results of upscaling into LCA for four different soil functions and threats mapped in the CORINE land cover maps. Broad dissemination and consensus building was reached by means of project deliverables, scientific publications, fact sheets and future integration of results in LCA operational tools.

Brief description of key results and achievements for the project

The main achievements led by WP5 are the following.
1. Deliverable 5.1 [1] successfully introduced the concepts of life cycle assessment (LCA) and the available models for assessing land use change in decision-making. We provided an initial set of quantifiable indicators for soil. Deliverable 5.2 [2] presented the methodology report to the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) on making benefits of land use changes quantified in terms of environmental impacts. Deliverable 5.3 [3] successfully presented a review of the existing literature on soil natural capital and soil ecosystem services (ES) and presented the methodology report on economic valuation of these services. The proposed framework aimed at classifying and valuing soil ES in the Earth’s Critical Zone. These three reports not only served as background for the work developed later in WP5, but also as general information for soil quality assessment and economic valuation of soil ES.
2. Deliverable 5.4 [4] briefly explained the current conceptual framework of land use impact assessment in LCA and proposed characterization factors (CFs) calculated for a pilot area, Crete, based on SoilTrEC data delivered by Work Package 3 (WP3) for Koiliaris and up-scaled by Work Package 4 (WP4). Based on the review of current existing soil quality models and the data supplied by SoilTrEC WP3 and WP4, WP5 proposed two types of characterization factors: site-specific (indicate the impact of occupation – taking into account the four parameters - for each 100mx100m grid cells in which Crete is divided) and site-dependent (indicate the impact of “occupation” in different land cover types – independently from where they are located in Crete).
3. Based on the framework proposed in Deliverable 5.3 WP5 suggested, in Deliverable 5.5 [5], a prototype assessment framework structure of sustainability goals measured by core and optional or satellite indicators derived from survey results. Deliverable 5.6 [6] presented the minutes of the WP5 integrating workshop and a summary of results of LCA analysis and monetary valuation and aimed to ensure broad dissemination and build consensus on the proposed CFs and valuation methods for soil functions.
Integration into decision-making tools as Life Cycle Assessment

WP5 aimed at quantifying impacts on soil function in decision support tools. Four soil threats indicators were incorporated in LCA as a support to decision-making of supply chain impacts associated with land use: (i) total nitrogen content [g/kg], (ii) soil sealing [% area], (iii) soil organic carbon content [SOC, %], and (iv) soil erosion [t/ha]. Figure 5.1 depicts these indicators for site-specific and site-dependent characterization and inventory data required.

Figure 5.1. Schematic representation of the environmental mechanism from inventory data required up to representation of possible end-points. The scheme presents the environmental mechanism for both site-dependent and site-specific characterization factors for occupation. After endpoints are represented, in terms of change in ecosystem functions related to soil functions affected, an economic valuation may be carried out to evaluate the economic impact of changes in soil/ecosystem functions.

LCA studies require mostly a lot of data (life cycle inventory) and demand a considerable amount of economic resources. Moreover, practitioners may not have exact information on where the production system, or part of it, takes place. Therefore, in general, characterization factors in LCA are proposed based on a top-down approach, i.e. making use of more generic data (e.g. national or global scale). However, for indicators such as soil quality, these factors do not fully represent local and/or regional impacts and damages to the environment. The results obtained in the SoilTrEC FP7 project helped solve this gap, as characterization factors were proposed, following a bottom-up approach, in which data is provided at a local scale, allowing a much more accurate representation of soil quality in a local and regional context (in this case, Crete Island).

Soil Sustainability Indicators

WP5 also developed a justified set of sustainability indicators for soils. This process led to the development of an extensive review of available indicators for soils, the development of a framework for indicator development that could be used in other contexts and relying on this development process created an indicator set that can be used at different levels of decision-making.

Two major stakeholder consultations contributed to the final justification of a ranked set of indicators. A World Café procedure was carried out in 2011, in Italy, with an initial set of 360 indicators. SoilTrEC partners and stakeholder groups brainstormed and voted on a set of possible sustainability indicators for soil. 44 indicators, belonging to three different pillars of sustainability (environment, economy and society) were finally chosen.

As a second step, after the World Café, the Delphi survey method was applied. Forty-four indicators were set out to 90 participants made up of scientists and user stakeholders. The overall final results are shown on Table 5.1 [6].

Table 5.1. Overall results of the survey that applied the Delphi method
Indicator nr. Ranking place high Indicator name Low score Standard deviation
32 1 Public awareness of the value of soil 4.52 0.68
1 2 Net carbon sequestration in soil 4.48 0.68
14 2 Change in soil total organic matter (TSOM) 4.48 0.68
7 3 Soil sealing 4.38 0.74
9 4 Soil contamination 4.38 1.12
39 5 Changes in flora diversity above ground 4.3 0.57
10 6 Changes in pH 4.33 0.73
4 7 Aggregate diversity 4.25 0.64
5 8 Bulky density 4.24 0.77
11 9 Changes in microbial biomass 4.24 0.94
25 1 Labor intensity 3.00 1.03
36 2 Age diversity in rural areas 3.19 1.08
38 3 Soil iron oxides content compared to ref. value 3.24 1.14
26 4 Access to information and justice 3.33 0.86
18 5 Waste generation intensity 3.33 1.02
34 5 Human health 3.33 1.02
21 6 Energy returns on investment 3.43 0.87
30 7 Literacy 3.43 1.4
42 8 Temperature – daytime temperature during the growing season 3.48 0.93
41 9 Public access to nature areas 3.52 0.98

Monetary Valuation of Multiple Soil Functions

A pilot study for valuation of soil functions utilised data from the Koiliaris CZO due to the CZO having the most comprehensive data available and due to the development of LCA characterization factors for that area. The soil services (functions) chosen were two regulating services (climate regulation (GHG buffering cold and heat) and filtering of nutrients and contaminants) and a provisioning service (biomass production). A summary of the services and the ecosystem method used is found in Table 5.2 [1].

Table 5.2. Soil services evaluated with economic methods in Koiliaris CZO
Soil service Economic valuation method Metric Beneficiary
Climate regulation Mitigation or restore cost C kg/ha/yr National/World
Filtering of nutrients Avoided cost N/kg/ha/yr National/World
Biomass production Producers price Price per biomass Local (farmers)/National (consumers)

The results showed a total cost of 1-278 ID$/ha/yr for the filtering of nutrients and contaminants, a cost of 2,200 – 5,610 ID$/ha/yr. for climate regulation and 740 – 7560 ID$/ha/yr for biomass service.

It was verified that it was possible to up-scale valuation results (national scale or even European scale). However, upscaling depends on the data for biophysical flows that describe the services being valued and what data is applicable for the specific context and objectives of the valuation. Some price data is available for national and EU wide comparison, specifically FAO commodity prices and national mitigation cost numbers.

Practical relevance of the results and key dissemination materials and activities for the project

Currently, soil quality indicators are not yet operational in LCA software. This means that soil functions are not taken into account when considering impacts from supply chains or single products. The first important contribution of SoilTrEC WP5 was the proposal of characterization factors for soil quality parameters, in order to allow the quantification of soil function impacts in a decision support tool as LCA. These factors are the site-specific characterization factors. Moreover, in order to contribute to current practice, on bigger scales, site-dependent characterization factors were also proposed. This is highly relevant, having in mind the incorporation of LCA in many policy instruments, not only in Europe, but all over the world. In practice, the incorporation of soil function impacts on LCA will allow soil quality to be considered, when making decision on different products. This affects not only the producer, but also the aim of more sustainable land management practices, at farm level.

Indicators for soil sustainability have also been proposed. They can be used in many contexts, ranging from decision-making at various levels (e.g. farmers) to policy-making. The process of setting the sustainability indicators took into account the experience and participation of different groups (farmers, other stakeholders, scientists), allowing all those groups to contribute to identifying the set of indicators. In addition, WP5 also provided quantified economic models to assess the monetary value of soil ecosystem services. The study revealed also the need to assess these ES in context with other indicators when making decisions regarding land-use, as economic valuation may favour actions that yield high economic values in the short run, possibly degrading the soil resource in the long run.

Valuation analysis is relevant in the context of illustrating the contribution of different soil services and the cost associated with soil degradation, i.e. loss of services. It provides information that may be useful when making decisions on management practice by bringing additional non-market information into decisions; such as raising awareness of the scale of off-site environmental costs that might not otherwise be considered.

The results of this work package are presented in 7 peer-review journal articles by Maia de Souza et al. and Robinson et al.

[1] Maia de Souza et al. (2012). SoilTrEC report Deliverable D5.1
[2] Maia de Souza et al. (2012). SoilTrEC report Deliverable D5.2
[3] Davidsdottir et al. (2013). SoilTrEC report Deliverable D5.3
[4] Maia de Souza et al. (2013). SoilTrEC report Deliverable D5.4
[5] Ragnarsdottir et al. (2014). SoilTrEC report Deliverable D5.5
[6] Maia de Souza et al. (2014). SoilTrEC integrating workshop report Deliverable D5.6.

3.3.6 Work Package 6 – International Integration

Work package objectives for the project
• Establish a global network of Critical Zone Observatories
• Experimental design to quantify soil processes along global environmental gradients
• Comparison of field and modelling results for soil processes and rates along gradients
• Standardisation of methods and data sets for the global network
• Delivery of an international training programme with the global network
• Organisation of specialist conference sessions and an international conference

Brief description of key results and achievements for the project

Key achievements led by Work Package 6 are the following
1. SoilTrEC established a global network of Critical Zone Observatories anchored by the 4 main CZOs at its core (Damma, Fuchsenbigl/Marchfeld, Lysina (the Slavkov Forest) and Koiliaris), and including CZOs in Europe (Plynlimon, Kindla and Strengbach) a further CZO in China (Red Soils) and the Shale Hills and Clear Creek CZOs in the USA [1,2].
2. SoilTrEC led an international effort to establish the conceptual experimental design to quantify soil processes along global environmental gradients of climate and land use. Together with the USA National Science Foundation CZO programme, SoilTrEC organised an international workshop for global experimental design at U. Delaware in November 2011 [3,4]. Sixty CZO sites from 25 countries were represented at the meeting. Within the project, SoilTrEC completed a comparison of field and modelling results for soil processes and rates along gradients of environmental conditions using the project network of CZOs. The project team frequently met throughout the project using dedicated workshops to discuss both field and modelling results. The workshops in Vienna (2011), Zurich (2013), Chania (2013, 2014) and Paris (2014) were important integration activities. Initial results were published [2] and a final technical report [5] presents the main results that will form the basis for additional journal papers in preparation.
3. SoilTrEC delivered an international training programme of 10 events with 349 participants in total. The training content will continue to be used as project foreground that will continue to be developed and contribute and to future training of young scientists and stakeholders. Additional participation from outside SoilTrEC was funded from the USA National Science Foundation (NSF) and NSF China. Events in Wuhan, Boulder, Prague and Chania were co-organised with participation from the USA CZO programme funded by USA NSF, and the meeting in Boulder was noted as evidence of international collaboration between the EU and USA in the Nature comment article that was commissioned from the SoilTrEC project in 2011 [3].
SCOPE Rapid Assessment Process project
SoilTrEC contributed substantially to the SCOPE Rapid Assessment Process project on Soil Carbon. The project followed publication in the UNEP Yearbook 2012 of an emerging issues chapter on the benefits of soil carbon management to tackle major global challenges of land degradation and food, fuel and water security. Seventy-five authors from 17 countries on 5 continents produced background chapters of science evidence for policy advances. SoilTrEC and the EC DG Joint Research Centre organised with SCOPE an international workshop in March 2013 that produced cross-cutting chapters. The main output of the project, SCOPE volume 71 Soil Carbon – science, management and policy for multiple benefits [6] was launched on Global Soil Day, 5 December 2014.

Standardisation of methods and data sets for the international network

Through joint discussions with overseas partners at the co-organised training events and in technical development led by Work Package 2 on data management, sharing and curation, SoilTrEC contributes to improved practices and standards for data management in collaborative international soils research. The detailed results are presented in a series of 3 SoilTrEC project reports:

1. Harmonized database of existing field data [7]
2. Initial report on standardized data acquisition and connected experimental methods, as well as for long term data storage, maintenance, and accessibility of the CZO data [8]
3. Technical report on routes to standardisation [9]
4. Final report on standardization of data acquisition and experimental methods [10]

SoilTrEC experience and consultation with international partners identified the need for greater e-infrastructure support on the European scale to facilitate CZO data curation for the future, and better delineation of the roles and responsibilities of the various parties involved. Improved data curation will enable greater transparency in data quality and ensure access to future research users.

Delivery of an international training programme with the international network

SoilTrEC delivered 10 training events with 1-3 events in each year in order to develop field, laboratory and the modelling skills and cross-disciplinary knowledge in the Critical Zone research program as listed in the table below. The training events were highly successful with the participation of international participants from Europe, USA and China. All training materials are accessible through the members’ area of the website.

Organisation of specialist conference sessions and an international conference

The SoilTrEC team successfully organised critical zone research sessions in the following international conferences:

1. European Geoscience Union conference in 2014 (SSS9.12/BG2.18/GM4.7/HS8.3.23; Coevolution of soils, landforms and vegetation: ecosystem stability thresholds and critical zone observatories) [11]. The conference abstracts were collected as a SoilTrEC report.
2. Eurosoil 2012 - S13.5 International Critical Zone Observatory research focusing on soil
3. Goldschmidt 2011- Session 14a. Critical Zone Processes at Multiple Scales

SoilTrEC co-organised the international conference Geochemistry of the Earth’s Surface IX, held in Boulder, Colorado and featured the research outputs and participation of scientists form SoilTrEC and the USA National Science Foundation CZO programme. A joint training event preceded the 5-day conference and an abstract volume was published [12].

Other significant conference where SoilTrEC was well represented:

1. Frontiers in International Critical Zone Science, 21-23 May 2014, Beijing
2. Geochemistry of the Earth’s Surface (GES), 18-22 August 2014, Paris

Practical relevance of the results and key dissemination materials and activities

The project web site is the main dissemination mechanism to support training and international collaboration. Key documents and supporting material are available from the home page or the training or members’ areas.

Dissemination materials include the following.
• A well maintained project website with training events:
• E-Learning Portal:
• Training materials from international training programs (member’s area):
• The conceptual design of global experimental design and a 10-year science agenda: Sustaining Earth's Critical Zone: Basic Science and Interdisciplinary Solutions for Global Challenges [4] (
• The state of our soils, International Innovation October 2011 (
• UNEP Year Book 2012 ( Reynaldo, Banwart et al.):
• Google Scholar Page on SoilTrEC publications:

[1] Banwart et al. (2011). Vadose Zone J., 10, 974–987.
[2] Banwart et al. (2012). Comptes Rendus Geoscience, 344, 758-772.
[3] Banwart (2011). Nature, 474,151–152.
[4] Banwart et al. (2013). Sustaining Earth’s Critical Zone. ISBN: 978-0-9576890-0-8.
[5] Nikolaidis et al. (2014). SoilTrEC technical report Deliverable 3.4.
[6] Banwart et al. (Eds) (2014). Soil Carbon. SCOPE Series Vol. 71, CABI, Wallingford, UK.
[7] van Gaans et al. (2011). SoilTrEC project report Deliverable 2.3.
[8] van Gaans et al. (2011). SoilTrEC technical report Deliverable 6.1.
[9] van Gaans et al. (2013). SoilTrEC project report Deliverable 2.4.
[10] van der Star W. and van Gaans P. (2014). SoilTrEC project report Deliverable D2.5.
[11] EGU General Assembly (2014). Geophys. Res. Abstracts, Vol. 16, EGU2014-5970-1.
[12] Anderson S. (Ed.) (2011). Applied Geochemistry, Volume 26.

3.3.7 Work Package 7 – Integration through Research Transfer

Work package objectives for the project
Work Package 7 has met during the SoilTrEC FP7 Project the following objectives:
• Study farming and land management practices that promote soil health
• Evaluate what constitutes a sustainable soil system from weathered bedrock through the soil horizons (C,B,A)
• Evaluate the need for energy for different land-use methodologies
• Evaluate “organic” farming and land-use methodologies that work with nature: “organic, permaculture, biodynamic
• Investigate the soil conservation potentials of various tilling methodologies
• Determine the importance of symbiotic fungi for extracting nutrients from underlying bedrock2013.
• Measure the bioavailability of nutrients according to farming methodologies
• Investigate the carbon sequestration potential of various land –use practices
• Introduce the concept of soil sustainability to all Partners at the kick-off meeting
• Promote the concept of soil sustainability to stake holders and the public
• Integrate the concept of sustainable soils into all Partners of SoilTrEC

All above objectives were successfully met (see deliverables 7.1 to 7.9) and achievements under each objective are given below.
Farming and land management practices that promote soil health were studied with organic and conventional farming practices in Iceland (sub-arctic soils) and Austria (Chernozems). The Austrian framing site was within the Fuchsenbigl/Marchfeld SoilTrEC observatory. Evaluation of what constitutes a sustainable soil system from weathered bedrock throughout he soil horizons (C,B,A) was studied by sampling soils in all SoilTrEC study sites from all soil horizons, extending the soil sampling strategy from conventional soils science from zone A into routinely including zone B and C.
The energy needs of different land-use methodologies were evaluated using the Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI) for organic and conventional farms in Iceland and Austria. The farms were the same as studied under objective 1. Evaluation of farming and land use methodologies that work with nature, organic, permaculture, and biodynamic, was done by comparing the soil properties in conventional and organic farming in Iceland and Austria. One of the organic farms studied in Iceland is also biodynamic. Permaculture was studied (mostly used in gardening) and introduced along with other sustainability principles in the PhD training course in Iceland (2014): Land use practice and sustainable use of soil.

Soil conservation potentials of various tilling methodologies were studied by including tillage in the evaluation of soil sustainability indicators from all three sustainability dimensions: Nature; Economy; and Society and wellbeing. The indicators that were evaluated were: 1. Nature dimension: Bulk density, soil depth, potential for N-mineralisation, total soil organic matter; 2. Economy dimension: Land management; and 3. Society and wellbeing dimension: Bioavailability of essential major and trace elements.
The importance of symbiotic fungi for extracting nutrients from underlying bedrock was the focus of a desk study of whether greater fungal/bacterial (F:B) ratios in soils correlate with favourable conditions for soil functions and development of a conceptual model that considers whether F:B is a potential metric of favourable conditions for soil functions. The bioavailability of nutrients according to farming methodologies was included in the studies of conventional and organic farms in Iceland and Austria as outlined in objective 1. The assessment of carbon sequestration potential of various land –use practices was carried out on soil chronosequence (mostly Chernozems) from 10 to 4500 under agricultural cropping, pastures and forests in the Critical Zone Observatory Marchfeld in the Danube floodplain east of Vienna (Austria). The results infer that high soil organic carbon accumulation occurs during the first decades
A special session was held at the project kick-off meeting to introduce sustainability thinking and the concept of soil sustainability to all Partners at the kick-off meeting. Promoting the concept of soil sustainability to stake holders and the public was achieved by holding a workshop with stakeholders at the EC DG Joint Research Centre, Ispra (Italy) and by involving stakeholders and policy makers in a Delphi survey for justifying soil sustainability indicators (see WP5). The Work Package leader presented and reinforced the concepts of soil sustainability at all partner meetings.

Brief description of key results and achievements for the project
Key outcomes from the WP have been to
1. Complete for the first time soil sustainability indicators with the participation of stakeholders. This lead to the soils sustainability indicators that were justified with the participation of policy makers, stakeholders and scientists with a series of Delphi surveys that culminated in justified soil sustainability indicators.
2. In addition to championing the concept of soil sustainability, SoilTrEC focussed on the importance soil chronological development, and the effect of land management on the stability of soil aggregates.
3. SoilTrEC demonstrated with a case study in Iceland (Andosols) that organic land management can support the stability of macro aggregates (>250 m), which are crucial for the support of soil functions and fertility in addition to the protection of organic matter in soil. The case study showed for the farms in Iceland that the Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI) for farming was significantly higher at the organic farms than the conventional farms.

Additional outcomes include the following results.
The EROI was calculated for in the same farms as the comparative farming studies. For the Icelandic grassland farms results show that one organic farm had an EROI of 1.21 whereas the conventional farms had EROI of 0.79 and 0.82 respectively. The other organic farm had an EROI of 0.89 and the conventional farm 0.54. This indicates that in general, organic farms provide a better EROI than conventional farms and in one case the output contains more energy than the input. This is mainly due to the absence of artificial fertilizers within the organic practice where the farms still maintain relatively high output of produce. For the Austrian arable farms we found that organic sugar beet production provided an overall energy return on investment (EROI) of 11.3 whereas the conventional farming practice showed an EROI of 14.1 and 15, respectively. Our study indicates that organic sugar beet production shows potential to substitute conventional industrial sugar beet production to provide inputs to ethanol production. By using organically produced sugar beets as inputs to the ethanol production, fossil fuels can be avoided to a large extent in the production process, thus, it may be possible to mitigate some of the environmental impacts associated with ethanol production.
For the chronosequence and comparative farming studies a new method for evaluating aggregate stability was developed. It was found that it is very important that researchers carefully select the amount of ultrasonic energy used, and the energy ranges depends on the type of soil studied.
In studying the chronosequence in the Marchfeld Critical Zone Observatory it was found that the persistence of soil organic carbon depends mainly on its physic-chemical composition. Other factors such as ecological and environmental conditions were identified, amongst which, soil physical parameters seem to be of great importance. All biological and chemical processes occur in the pore space defined by the soil structure, indicating that the accessibility of organic carbon by soil biota could be key for understanding the persistence of organic carbon against biological decomposition. The main conclusions were that carbon sequestration is strongly influenced by human induced land use:

Forest >grassland>>cropland
WP7 also found that co-evolution of soil organic matter and clay mineral surfaces is the main mechanism for carbon sequestration and that SOC that is not physico-chemically bound is easily decomposable (excluding peptides and aromatics). The results show a high soil organic carbon accumulation during the first decades of soil development, decreasing intensively in later in time, reaching a very low accumulation rates after some hundred years. This process is strongly influenced by different types of land use (D7.8).
The comparative farming study in Icelandic grasslands (Andosols) showed that macroaggregates (>2m) in topsoils were most prominent in unimproved soils (62-77%) and organically managed soils (58-69%), whereas 20-250 m aggregates were the most prominent in conventionally managed sites. Oxides were shown to be important binding agents of macroaggregates and they correlate positively with fungal biomass. The higher macroaggregate stability in organic farming practice compared to conventional farming is of interest due to the importance of macroaggregates in protection soil organic matter. SOM is a prerequisite for soil functions in grasslands that are envisaged for food production in the future.
The comparative farming study in Austria (Chernozems) showed that there were no significant differences in mean weight diameter (MWD) or amount of macroaggregates between the conventional- versus organically managed arable farms. The smallest fraction of aggregates (<20 m) at one farming pair and the medium fraction (20-250 m) at another farming pair contained the most organic carbon and total nitrogen. Further studies are required on cultivated Chernozems to understand on a quantitative basis whether it is beneficial to use biowaste compost and horse manure as organic inputs, in order to increase soil organic matter content and macroaggregation.

Practical relevance of the results and key dissemination materials and activities
Currently the concept of soil sustainability, soil chronological development and effect of land management is not very well researched. WP7 studies are therefore important for furthering soil sustainability thinking, the effect of time on the development of soil function, as well as the importance that organic land management can have on the stability of soil aggregates. Furthermore, we have demonstrated that the EROI for organic farms is higher than that of conventional farms for Andosols in Iceland. The results of this work package have been presented in 3 peer-reviewed scientific journal papers with 5 more currently in review and 3 in preparation, 1 peer-reviewed conference proceedings, 2 PhD theses and 3 presentations at international conferences. The journal Nature commissioned a Comment article entitled Save Our Soils by the project coordinator in 2011. Our work was noted by the Springer Publishing House, resulting in a commissioned book to be edited by the WP7 leader entitled: Soil Sustainability and Policy Needs. The book will come out in 2015. In addition to that the well-respected international journal Advances in Agronomy has invited an issue from the SoilTrEC project highlighting the outcomes of soil research framed by soil observatories in Earth’s Critical Zone. The results have also been brought out of the academic world. The project has written a Soil eBook for secondary schools that will come out in January 2015. The WP7 leader has met with a number of stakeholders in Brussels that will continue to disseminate the results of this project throughout Europe and the international community (see Table 1 in section 3.4.1).

3.3.8 Work Package 8 – Project Management
Work package objectives for the project
• Provide leadership and decision-making capacity for successful delivery of the project.
• Ensure effective scientific and administrative communication between partners.
• Monitor progress, assess risks and define clearly the partner responsibilities for delivery.
• Assess measures of success and report these to EC and partners.
• Effective management of research results and advances for pro-active research transfer.
• Stimulate a team ethos and effective working as a research partnership.

The project management section in the Consolidated Review Reports gave very positive comments on the management of SoilTrEC. In period 2 the reviewers stated that “The project management has performed very efficiently and professionally through the duration of the project. The frequency, length and detail of periodic report is exceptional and there was any significant delays for the deliverables.”
In period 3 the report stated that “the project management has been performed efficiently and professionally through the duration of the third period of the project. The deliverables were very clear and well performed with no delays and any deviations from the DOW which indicates the high level of management. Collaboration between beneficiaries: the collaboration between beneficiaries is effective and evident in the documents. The interaction between WPs is high and upgraded during the project. Project achievements seem to have benefitted a lot from very good cooperation, considering that there was a strong link between field measurements and model evaluation among all partners.”
During year 3 of the project, the management team conducted a short, anonymous survey amongst SoilTrEC partners on the management of the SoilTrEC Consortium. The purpose of the survey was to gain feedback from project partners on the performance of the University of Sheffield in the coordinating role. 63% of respondents rated the overall management of the consortium as “excellent” and 38% as “good”. Overall, 64% of respondents rated project communication as “excellent” and 34% as “good” with, 2% as “satisfactory”. Of those responding 75% thought email communication was “excellent” and 25% though it was “good”. 64% of respondents rated the information circulated by the management team as “excellent”, 31 as “good” and 4% as “satisfactory”. Partners felt the information they received for meetings was particularly good, with 69% rating meeting information as “excellent” and 31% “good”. We also asked partners about responsiveness from the management team. 70% of partners felt this was “excellent”, 24% thought it was “good” and 6% felt the responsiveness was “satisfactory”.

Brief description of key results and achievements for the project
Throughout the project, the consortium continued with the management format agreed at the beginning of the project. The management team, made up of the Coordinator, Assistant Scientific Coordinator, Project Manager and Work Package Leaders continued to manage the consortium to ensure that the integration of effort and results were monitored and reviewed and that deliverables and milestones were achieved within the deadlines. Management of the consortium was successfully maintained through regular communication and meetings involving different groups.
The Project Manager led the project office at USFD and liaised with partner administrators to maintain and monitor project administration coordination. Administrative roles and responsibilities were clearly defined with each partner in the Partnership Agreements. Project finances were also managed by the University of Sheffield. The Project Manager monitored actual spend within the project by requesting financial reports from all partners every six months. Partners were provided with a draft Form C, in which they recorded their financial spend. Furthermore, this was considered good preparation for the period end reporting.
SoilTrEC Management Group Meetings
Throughout the project, the management group met on a quarterly basis via Skype. The following management meetings were held during the final period of the project:
Title Date Venue
1 SoilTrEC Management Group Meeting 05/12/2013, 04/04/2014, 26/06/2014, 04/09/2014, 04/12/2014, 19/01/2015 Skype

SoilTrEC Committees Meetings
During all periods of the project, each committee held at least one meeting by Skype. The meetings ensured effective management and planning within key areas of the project.
The three committees within the project are:
● Training Committee, chaired by Steve Banwart (Coordinator, WP6 and WP8 Leader).
● Data Management Committee, chaired by Pauline van Gaans, (WP 2 leader)
● Dissemination Committee, chaired by Vala Ragnarsdóttir (WP7 Leader).
During the final period of the project the following committee meetings took place by Skype:

Title Date Venue
1 Training Committee 01/05/2014 Skype
2 Data Management Committee 01/05/2014 Skype
3 Dissemination Committee 05/12/2013,04/04/2014,10/072014,19/12/2014 Skype

Project Board meeting
Due to the number of large number of partners on SoilTrEC, the decisions made by the project board were carried out via email discussions. This proved to be a successful process. Ten project board members attended the final advisory board meeting in 2014.
Advisory Board Meetings
The final advisory board meeting took take place at the EC-JRC office in Ispra, Italy from the 1st – 3rd October 2014. The meeting was attended by 40 participants, including advisory board members, SoilTrEC partners, researchers and students. As part of the meeting we also held final integrating workshops for work package 5 (1st October) and work package 4 (2nd October).
The formal advisory board meeting included presentations from the Work Package leaders to report the results during the final year of the project. This was followed by Q&A with the advisory board. Time was provided for the Advisory Board members to meet separately with the coordinator to review outcomes and headline achievements. These were reported back to the full meeting with discussion on final steps for integration and dissemination.
Forward plans were also discussed with the Advisory Board. An action was agreed that the coordinator would submit to the DG RTD Sino-European Panel and Land and Soil (SEPLS) a proposal for a joint EU-China-USA workshop on urban soils and renaturing cities with a potential timing of mid-2015 proposed.
Internal Management meetings (USFD team)

The internal management team (Coordinator, Project Manager and Assistant Scientific Coordinator) at USFD meet regularly to discuss project progress and to plan for forthcoming events, meetings and deadlines. If needed, necessary relevant partners from the consortium join in discussions via Skype.
Title Date Venue
1 SoilTrEC Periodic Report Meeting 05/12/2013 Sheffield
2 SoilTrEC Website Meeting 12/12/2013, 11/03/2014 Sheffield
3 SoilTrEC Finance Meeting 07/01/2014, 20/02/2014, 18/06/2014, 14/07/2014, 10/09/2014, 17/09/2014, 23/10/2014, 18/11/2014, 09/12/2014, 08/01/2015 Sheffield
5 SoilTrEC Project Management Meeting 06/02/2014, 06/03/2014, 02/04/2014, 04/04/2014, 01/05/2014, 25/06/2014, 03/07/2014, 07/08/2014, 06/11/2014 Sheffield
16 SoilTrEC Advisory Board Prep Meeting 04/09/2014 Sheffield
18 SoilTrEC Final Report Prep Meeting 12/09/2014, 04/12/2014, 15/01/2015 Sheffield

Progress Evaluation and Risk Management
Progress evaluation and risk management has been reviewed throughout the project. There were no significant issues during the project that needed to be addressed.
Scientific reporting within the consortium has been carried out through a variety of methods. Researchers within the project reported on progress within their area of work via presentations and participation at training events and workshops. Work package leaders reported scientific progress to the management group at the quarterly team meetings. Each work package leader provided updates on progress, results, events and planning. Technical reports were also produced as reporting methods and were contracted deliverables within the project, which were submitted within the requested deadlines.
Formal financial reporting to the EC is carried out at the same time as the periodic/final report. The project manager has monitored project finances throughout the project by requesting updated financial information from each partner on a six-monthly basis. Throughout the project all partners completed the Form C via the participant portal, which was reviewed and submitted by the USFD Team.
All project deliverables, unless agreed with the EC Project Officer, were submitted by the requested deadline.

Potential Impact:
The Potential Impact of the SoilTrEC Project (not exceeding 10 pages).

3.4.1 Dissemination of SoilTrEC outcomes
SoilTrEC Dissemination Strategy is to reach academics, practitioners, EU Commission, policy makers, the public and the international community. Many scientific outcomes have been presented to the academic community, practitioners, policy makers, EU Commission, public and international community. These activities are outlined below. An overview of dissemination activities undertaken by all SoilTrEC partners is given in section 4.1. It becomes evident in reading the table that tens of stakeholder and policy makers are reached, thousands of academics through scientific literature, and potentially millions of the public (e.g. teachers via the TES network noted below with 3.6 million registered members).

Dissemination to academic community: Results from SoilTrEC have been presented at international and national conferences as reported in the WP6 section above, along with scientific papers and other dissemination activities undertaken by the partners. Special sessions on the Critical Zone have taken place at many international conferences, including the Eurosoil conference in Bari, 2012, The European Union of Geosciences AGM in Vienna, April 2014, and SoilTrEC helping organise The Geochemistry of the Earth’s Surface in Boulder, June 2011 and again in Paris, August 2014. A special issue with overreaching outcomes from SoilTrEC is invited in Advances in Agronomy with papers being ready for submission early 2015. The soil topics that will be addressed include: New directions for research, importance of soils observatories for global research networks, biodiversity and food webs, life cycle analysis, ecosystem services, sustainability indicators, political economy, and opportunities for soils education in schools.

Dissemination to Practitioners: Practitioners and soil managers can find out about outcomes from our dissemination website and from SoilTrEC Fact Sheets that are available for download from the project´s website; they are also available from the EC DG Joint Research Centre Sustainable Agriculture and Soil Conservation website. Partners are encouraged to translate the fact sheets into their languages. Fact sheets were brought and discussed at various farming organisations in Brussels in October, 2014 (Table 1). All fact sheets and the final report of SoilTrEC will be sent to these organisations in addition to others that are identified in the table.

The policy and stakeholder fact sheets that were produced in in SoilTrEC are:
• Soil Structure,
• Importance of Soil,
• Earth´s Critical Zone,
• Soil Organic Carbon,
• Food Webs and Biodiversity,
• Ecosystem Services of Soil,
• Farming Practice and Soil Stability,
• Addition of Compost to Tomato Farming in Crete,
• Training of Farmers in Bulgaria,
• Soil Indicators for Sustainability, and
• Modelling of a Critical Zone Observatory.

In October 2014 seven soil related stakeholder organisations were visited in Brussels by the WP7 leader. They were informed about SoilTrEC and provided Fact Sheets from the project. All organisations were very interested in the project and confirmed that they will inform their members of the SoilTrEC outcomes and distribute the fact sheets. The organisations, their address, membership, contact persons and geographical focus of activity are given in Table 1.

Table 1. Stakeholder organisations visited in Brussels.
Organisation Address Members Contact person Geography/Focus of
La Via Campesina
18 rue de la Sablonniere
1000 Brussels Small farmers Bernard Boudin
+32 221 731 12 International/
Rights of farmers
European Land Owners
Organisation (ELO)
27 rue de Treves
1040 Brussels European land owners Julianna Nagy
Ana Rocha
Large conferences, Proactive action on the environment, Soil management award
European Initiative for
Sustainable development in
Agriculture (EISA)
10 rue J-B. Vandercammen
1160 Brussels European farming organisations
e.g. LEAF(UK), FARRE(FR), OIB(SE), FNL(DE) Robby Schreiber
+32 2 660 82 14 Europe, British Commonwealth/
Integrated pest management
European Crop Protection
Association (ECPA)
Avenue E. van Nieuwenhuyse
1160 Brussels Gavin Withore
+32 2663 1550
Crop protection
Fertilizers Europe
Avenue E. van Nieuwenhuyse
1160 Brussels Christian Palliere
+32 2 675 35 50
Chemical fertilizers
61 Rue de Treves,
1040 Brussels Tania Runge
Antonia Andugar-Minarro
Umbrella farming organisation
International Federation of
Organic Agriculture Movements

1124 rue du Commerce,
1000 Brussels
Organic agricul-ture organi-sations Lena Wietheger
+32 2 735 73 81 International/
Organic farming practices
European Council of Young

Kleopatra Sidiropoulou
Tel: +32 322
304210 Europe/
Young farmers in Europe
Other organisations/programs that are targeted for SoilTrEC partners outreach
Sustainable Agriculture Initiative
platform (SAIP)
Global/Food and drink
Analysis and Experimentation on Ecosystems (AnaEE)
Evan O´Connell
Setting up
agricultural observatories
(European Innovation
Partnership in Agriculture ) Eip-
Pacome Elouna Eyenga
Lining agricultural research with end users
Land Use, Land Use Change
and Forestry (LULUCF)
Jos Delbeke
Director General
DG Climate Action
Europe DG Clima/
How best to sequester carbon
DG Agri, Unit H4, Unit H5 Olivier Diana
Rob Peeters
Europe DG Agriculture

Dissemination of the EU Commission: The EU Commission has been reached through our SoilTrEC periodic and final reports along with specific EC offices, outlined in Table 1. Annual meetings of soil-related FP7 and Horizon 2020 projects have been organised by DG RTD joint with relevant DG policy teams. DG Joint Research Centre is a SoilTrEC partner and acts as a policy interface with the relevant DG policy teams.

Dissemination to the Public: The public will be reached through high school level book - Soil: Soil the Life Supporting Skin of Earth. The book will be published as an eBook by the University of Sheffield in February 2015. The schoolbook is being brought to the international community by connecting with UNESCO´s Decade on Education for Sustainable Development. The book will be made available through an international network of teachers (TES – that has 3.6 million registered online users in 279 countries and territories around the world. SoilTrEC also has an open Facebook group where soil related issues and the results of the project are frequently discussed there.

Dissemination to Policy Makers: Policy makers have been reached through SoilTrEC dissemination via the UN Environment Programme Yearbooks 2012 with an emerging issues chapter on soil carbon that was co-authored by the project coordinator. This chapter was revisited in the UNEP 2014 yearbook, including a description of Earth’s Critical Zone. The emerging issues chapter motivated the SoilTrEC coordinator, supported by project partners, to lead a Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) Rapid Assessment Process project on the Benefits of Soil Carbon. The project published in December 2014 a 400-page authoritative volume of scientific evidence and recommendation of innovation in practice and policy. Many SoilTrEC partners contributed to the volume and the international writing workshop to produce 4 cross-cutting chapters for the SCOPE volume was hosted by SoilTrEC partner DG JRC.

The policy interface will continue to be reached. A new book is commissioned from SoilTrEC partners by Springer. The book is in the format of SpringerBrief and the aim is to have it out before the international soil week in Berlin in April, 2015. The title will be Soil Sustainability and Policy Needs and will include chapters on: Soil and the Earth´s Critical Zone; Soil functions; Soil threats; Soil biodiversity and food web; Land use and soil stability; Modelling the soil ecosystem; The global soil supply chain; Soil ecosystem services; The lack of political economy of soil; Soil restoration – solutions for a sustainable future; and Policy needs for soil sustainability. A paper on policy needs for soil protection was presented at a Political Economy conference in Sheffield in June 2014.

Dissemination to the International community: The international community is being reached through all of our activities in SoilTrEC. All partners have provided overview of their own dissemination aims and targets (see Table 2 – D7.9 – and Table 1 in this section). The SoilTrEC website has a dissemination section that both gives results from the project and links to important soil related material already available on the web at large. As can be shown in Table 2 SoilTrEC partners have led and contributed to an impressive number of conferences and workshops – reaching thousands of people around the world. The advisory board with members for outside the EU including USA and China has championed the outputs of SoilTrEC which has led to substantial dissemination in those countries.

3.4.2 Evidence of Impact of SoilTrEC
In Part B of the SoilTrEC proposal the applicants aspired to have a wide-reaching impact on the international CZO and soil communities (see Table 15 in section 3.1 Expected impacts). Table 2 outlines the achievements.

Table 2. Impact of SoilTrEC activities
Impact aspired to in proposal Impact achieved during 5 year of SoilTrEC
SoilTrEC will link directly with USA CZOs as the core of global network of sites. This, along with collaborations with a Chinese partner, will create the first international observatory network which will be based on the extensive US experience in founding and managing their CZO network. SoiTrEC has worked with the USA CZOs to widen the network of observatories to Europe and together SoilTrEC and USA CZOs have formulated with colleagues in. In addition Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand a collection of 61 observatories (

Soil processes will be evaluated with a critical Zone integrated model, from catchment to EU scale, and applied across the global network of sites. This will formulate the first international soil system model that will underpin policy in the EU, EU member states as well as in US and China. SoilTrEC Deliverable D3.4 reports modelling results from across the international network of CZOs within SoilTrEC including sites in China and the USA. The early results from SoilTrEC outcomes provided evidence to support a 2nd round of funding from the USA National Science Foundation CZO programme and contributed evidence to NSF China to initiate a national CZO programme linked with EU and USA national funders.
Four EU field sites with successful research track records will form a network of CZOs for soils research. This will be added to the CZOs in the US, a site in China and affiliated satellite sites in the participating countries. The SoilTrEC international network of CZOs stimulated a workshop to design joint research at global scale across a network of 60 field sites in 25 countries worldwide, reported on
The four EU CZOs represent key stages in the soil life cycle; from soil formation, through productive use, to severely degraded soil. This modelling is a new aspect of research that the US CZOs are currently not addressing. Our collaborative effort will thus be the first field based model that incorporates all stages of soil formation to degradation. The SoilTrEC unique focus on soils within CZOs has allowed data collection and modelling of the overall processes in the large CZ system. The modelling has not only addressed the biogeochemical processes but also a wide range of soil functions as the ecosystem services of soils – a first time achievement.
SoilTrEC addresses key threats in the EU Thematic Strategy for Soil, soil losses through erosion, loss of soil carbon, changes in biodiversity and declining soil fertility. The knowledge of four CZOs in the EU and three in the US will be further extended by studying affiliated sites where alternative land management, presumed to be more sustainable, is overtaken in order to establish ´best practice´ for stakeholders. Comparison of land management was undertaken in the CZOs in the Czech Republic, Austria and Crete – in addition to Iceland. Fact sheets have been produced that outline ´best practice´ for stakeholders.
The first ever transparently justified soil sustainability indicators were established through involvement of stakeholders and partners – with further Delphi testing that involved SoilTrEC participants, stakeholders and policy makers.
Up-scaling of the Critical Zone integrated model will be done for an EU transect at basin-scale and will enable the analysis of soil threats at EU scale. This will be the first international model that addresses such rocks, climate and geographical location. The SWAT code provides the 3-D integrated platform for catchment-scale modelling of soil functions. The SWAT code for hydrological processes was used to successfully upscale soil functions of water storage and transmission from the Koiliaris CZO to all of Crete to demonstrate the upscaling methodology. The soil function of carbon storage was upscaled from the 4 main CZOs to regional and national scale and the meta-model used to produce maps of soil carbon storage at EU scale.
SoilTrEC partners will establish with the USA CZOs, standards and procedures for harmonisation of data collection methods, data quality and data management. This will be built on the already established date access and standardisation model in the US. 4 SoilTrEC reports document methods of data management, reporting, sharing and curation for international collaboration.
1. Harmonized database of existing field data
2. Initial report on standardized data acquisition and long term data storage,
3. Routes to [data] standardisation [9]
4. Final report on standardization of data acquisition and experimental methods

The SoilTrEC promised impacts and achievements are further outlined below with focus on generating new knowledge, new approaches, soil protection, common strategy for data access and implementation aligned with the EU Soil Thematic strategy. Indicators of measure of successful impact are outlined in Table 4.

Table 3. Indicators of successful achievement of SoilTrEC goals
Activity Success Indicator SoilTrEC achievement
New knowledge on soils through cooperation with North America Joint publication s between EU, North American and Chinese partners 13 peer-review publications and monograph
More flexible and versatile data bases of soil process measurements that will help to develop, calibrate and validate computational models and their outputs Meta-data for SoilTrEC soils profiles data base described in peer-review publication1, published online at
A comprehensive plan of how the CZOs will operate SoilTrEC reports on harmonisaton of data and modelling methods address this. A forward plan for operation of a global network of CZOs is published2
New approaches to models and unifying conceptual frameworks for soil research A well-constructed and tested model that is critically welcomed by colleagues within all science disciplines and which is adopted and developed further in the future as a unifying model The vision of the model is presented in a commissioned article in the journal Nature. 2 SoilTrEC reports describe the model and its application across the SoilTrEC network of CZOs. Several new proposals have been submitted with the ICZM as a core research capability with 1 funded so far, and full journal articles to report the cross-CZO modelling results will be submitted in 2015.
Contribution to soil protection, restoration and management by addressing a broad range of soil management problems A database of those who would like to have and use the new management tool for future scenario testing. The more people who are on the database, the greater the impact on the practice community Table 1 outlines a large number of organisations that have an impact across the world
Links to the SoilTrEC web site on the pages of other organizations. The more links that are created, the greater the impact in creating visibility and promoting the research transfer activities to research users and other stakeholders Google produces 4340 results when searching for SoilTrEC.
A common strategy for date access, standardisation and management that will facilitate the access to and the exploitation of standardised data A link to the European Soil Date Centre to the datasets that SoilTrEC have used and created, accompanied by a full suite of metadata documentation The metadata is published online at and described in publication1. Data curation is underway with compiled data sets planned to be deposited with ESDC.

External researchers, stakeholder, SMEs and policy makers becoming involved in SoilTrEC workshop discussion with written outputs about the data formats and best methods for standardisation of soil data across Europe The joint SoilTrEC – USA NSF workshop in Nov. 2011 at U. Delaware, and a further international CZO workshop organised by the SoilTrEC coordinator with NSF China in May 2014 both have placed international standards and norms for data management and sharing on science policy roadmaps. A current joint LTER-CZO network proposal to the EC ESFRI roadmap place data standards and sharing protocols at the centre of science policy.
The project will adhere to the principles laid down in the EU Soil Thematic Strategy and will contribute to its implementation A greater number of people will have tools and knowledge at their disposal to reduce soil degradation in practice See Table 1 for stakeholder organisations that are informed about SoilTrEC outcomes.
The level of interaction with policy implementers in member states, who will need the type of decision support and science evidence that SoilTrEC will provide in order to adhere to the requirements of existing and new EU legislation on soils See Table 2 and 3 for organisations that have outcomes of SoilTrEC. 11 Fact Sheets have been produced and are being distributed to stakeholders.
1Banwart et al. (2011). Vadose Zone J., 10, 974–987.
2Banwart et al. (2013). Sustaining Earth’s Critical Zone. ISBN: 978-0-9576890-0-8.
3.4.3 SoilTrEC Consideration of Gender Aspects

SoilTrEC has from the beginning of the project been proactive to support the gender balance of the project. Of the 17 institutions that took part in SoilTrEC, four lead partners are women (24%) and women also form 24% of the established scientists who are named in the original proosal. Of the 8 Work Packages, 5 were led by women (62%). Two institutions had all women established scientist (100% - Partners 2,6). Partners 6 and 13 are both led by women who are internationally known for promoting women in science, and they took on this role in SoilTrEC. Throughout the project 38 early career women and men have been hired into the research activities, and of these women were 47%. The SoilTrEC partnership is very proud of the balanced female participation hired into the project and the visible women leaders in the project and consider that SoilTrEC has been a champion within the EC for increasing the number of women in soil science and research generally in Europe and internationally.

A summary of the some of the main dissemination activities for the duration of the SoilTrEC Project. Many of these are activities led by the Coordinator on behalf of the SoilTrEC partnership. A complete list of dissemination activities is provided in section 4 below.
Partner Activity Type/size of audience
USFD 2010
● March 2010: Steven Banwart invited speaker to NERC-NSF workshop on Soil and Critical Zone research at the National Science Foundation, Washington D.C.
● May 2010: Steven Banwart invited speaker on Soil Sustainability in Earth's Critical Zone Observatory Session at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly, Vienna.
● Sept 2010: Steven Banwart invited to present research of the SoilTrEC project to the USA National Science Foundation's Critical Zone Observatory Programme, annual meeting in Boulder, Colorado.
● July 2011: Steven Banwart SoilTrEC Presentation at Meeting of Coordinators 'Soil, Desertification and Land Degradation', Natural Resources and Food & Agricultural units of European Commission, Brussels.
● Aug 2011: Steven Banwart, Invited co-author, UNEP 2012 Yearbook: 'Carbon benefits of soils’
● Nov 2011: Steven Banwart, Lead organiser of the Optimising Soil Chemistry for Agriculture and Resource Efficiency (OSCAR) Workshop at Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) at Burlington House, London.
● Nov 2011: Steven Banwart, Invited Guest Speaker at the CropWorld Global 2011 conference organised by United Business Media (UBM) and the British Crop Protection Council (BCPC). ExCeL, London.
● Feb 2012: Steven Banwart invited online 'Expert of the Day' on United Nations Environment program (UNEP): Environment for Development website.
● June 2012: Steven Banwart invited talk at Institute of Geology, University of Strasbourg entitled 'Saving Earth's Critical Zone'.
● Sept 2012: Steven Banwart invited talk "Critical Zone Observatories and Soil Sustainability" in Technical Session: Critical Zone Processes, Soil Sustainability, and Elemental Cycling in Soils at "The 2nd International Geobiology Conference: critical zone observatories for sustainable soil development and beyond" Conference held in Wuhan, China.
● Nov 2012: Steven Banwart invited talk in Session 2: Solutions from Research entitled "The role of environmental chemical engineering" at Engineering for Agriculture and Food Security Workshop held in London.
● Nov 2012: Steven Banwart invited attendance at NERC ‘think tank’ meeting to discuss plans to develop a new research programme on Soil Security, held in London.
● May 2013: Steven Banwart invited Keynote talk entitled "Harnessing the Multiple Benefits of Soil Carbon - a SCOPE Rapid Assessment Project" at SOM2013: 4th International Symposium on Soil Organic Matter Dynamics in Nanjing, China.
● May 2013: Steven Banwart invited meeting with National Science Foundation of China Vice President of Geosciences. Prof Congqing LIU, to give a 45 minute presentation on my SoilTrEC project and the ambition and potential for an international program of Critical Zone research built around a global network of Critical Zone Observatories (CZOs).
● May 2013: Steven Banwart invited meeting with Prof Ganlin ZHANG, Executive Director, State Key Lab of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture at Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute for Soil Science. I spent a half day with Prof Zhang and his staff and gave a presentation on SoilTrEC.
● June 2013: Steven Banwart invited chair of session 'Research to Stakeholder's needs' at European Commission Workshop: "Fostering innovative dialogue between researchers and stakeholders" in Brussels.
● June 2013: Steven Banwart invited visit to attend Future Earth Town Hall meeting hosted by The Royal Society and the British Academy and led by the International Council for Science (ICSU) in collaboration with the International Social Science Council in London.
● Oct 2013: Steven Banwart invited attendance and presentation of white paper entitled 'Planning an International CZO Programme' at National Science Foundation (NSF) workshop: 'Drilling, Sampling and Imaging the Depths of the Critical Zone' in Denver, Colorado.
● Oct 2013: Steven Banwart invited talk at 2nd Global Soil Week 2013 'Losing Ground?' conference in Dialogue Sessions: 'Focus III - 2.5. Sustaining Earth’s Critical Zone: global soils research for adapting to environmental and social change' in Berlin.
● Nov 2013: Steven Banwart, presentation given in the brokerage session "SC5 Managing natural resources + Earth Observation/ GEO" of the Info Day on calls 2014 "HORIZON 2020 SC5: Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials" in Brussels.
● April 2014: Joint organiser of "Sustainable Agriculture and Soils Innovation” (SASI) workshop hosted by Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), London in April 2014.
● April 2014: Steven Banwart - Invited Keynote on the 10-year agenda for international Critical Zone science 'Critical Zone Observatories for Adapting to Environmental Change - a European perspective from the SoilTrEC programme’ at the UWA, Perth, Australia (part of Future Farm Programme).
● April 2014: Steven Banwart invited visit to UWA Future Farm; a newly acquired field site for translational research in to adapting farming methods in response to global change pressures. UWA, Perth.
● April 2014: Steven Banwart invited visit and talk at Tongji University, Shanghai by Prof Fenting Li (leads Tongi Environment Institute, affiliated with the United Nations Environment Programme) and hosted by Prof Yalei ZHANG. Visit included a presentation on SoilTrEC project and international CZO activities and plans and a tour of Chongming Island EcoPark as a potential Chinese CZO site and as a possible focus for joint Tongi-Sheffield research collaboration.
● April 2014: Steven Banwart invited talk 'Critical Zone Observatories - research to tackle global soil threats' at Nanjing Agricultural University hosted by Prof Genxing PAN, department of soil science.
● April 2014: Steven Banwart invited keynote speaker 'Designing sustainable soils in Earth's critical zone' at European Geosciences Union General Assembly (EGU) 2014 in Vienna, Austria.
● May 2014: Steven Banwart - Keynote talk 'Critical Zone Science and Global Societal Challenges' with Martin Goldhaber, at Frontiers in International Critical Zone Science workshop hosted by NSF China with NSF USA, NERC (UK), CNRS (France), DFG (Germany) in Beijing, China.
● December 2014: Steven Banwart invited talks 1)'Outcome of workshop “Frontiers in International Critical Zone Science” 2)'Status of Critical Zone Research: Infrastructure, Advances and Opportunities for International Collaboration' (UK & EC) and 3) 'Implementing Recommendations of Beijing Workshop' at the International Critical Zone Observatory Program meeting in San Francisco, USA.

● Presentations of the concepts, the major outputs of the SoilTrEC project and the contribution of the team of ISSNP re:
(i) the open day at ISSNP to celebrate the World Soil Day (S. Rousseva, M. Kercheva, T. Shishkov December 5th 2013)
(ii) the International Exhibition “Agra 2014”, held February-March 2014 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria (S. Rousseva, M. Kercheva, T. Shishkov)
● the audience of the open day celebrating the World Soil Day 2013 nos. 180
TUC The Reactive Transport Modelling Workshop was held at Technical University of Crete, Chania, Greece on 16-19th July 2012, in collaboration with National Science Foundation, USA.
• 40 researchers and students
DELT Activities on European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2014, Vienna, Austria, 27 April - 2 May 2014
Soil process modelling in CZO research: gains in data harmonisation and model validation Pauline van Gaans, Maria Andrianaki, Florian Kobierska, Pavel Kram, Anna Lamacova, Georg Lair, Nikos Nikolaidis, Chris Duffy, Inge Regelink, Jeroen van Leeuwen, and Peter de Ruiter
EC-JRC WP4 Modelling Results were presented in the meeting “10th international symposium, Geochemistry of the Earth’s surface (GES-10), Between Rocks and Sky: Earth’s Critical Zone” on August 18-22, 2014
HI Ragnarsdottir Visited soil related organisations in Brussels, October 2014

● Ragnarsdottir gave an invited presentation at SPERI (Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute) annual conference, July, 2014 ● 7 organisations that lobby for soil and agriculture in the EU (some with international links) millions+

● Political economists, 150+
● Knowledge transfer to the Dutch soil testing company
● oral presentations at farmers' and policy organisations in Austria, Germany, Belgium (Brussels) and Italy (Rome)
● Soil Science Society of America - 2 key note talks at SSSA international meeting Tampa, 2013, Nov. 3-6 David Robinson
● MySoil iphone app, contains acknowledgement to SoilTrEC within the app for and JRC. This has gone from GB to EU and next step is to include Africa. (Contacts, David Robinson CEH, Panos JRC, Russell Lawley BGS) MySoil has now had >5,000,000 hits and now has more than 20,000 users. We continue to discuss and develop.
● David Robinson gave a talk, Brynhildur Davidsdottir organized the session under a SoilTrEC banner Audience, soil science 100+ people

• Bin Zhang has provided information in Chinese that focus on soil and water management for high crop yield, which are used for training local extension officials and farmers.
● More than 1000 local farmers were trained and visited the agricultural catchment.
● Bin Zhang gave a talk on soil critical zone on the annual meeting of Soil Physics, Soil Science Society of China in 2011, in Harbin.
● The SoilTrEC project had been presented at international meetings for the UN ECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP), LTER Europe, and EC Life+ project Futmon and Env Europe. Last CLRTAP meeting was in September 2014.
● Representatives of c. 40 countries attended.
● Scientific and popularization activities for schools, children and general public (National Science Festival, mineralogical festival…).
● Several excursions and field trip for students, schools, public, colleagues, workshop…

List of Websites:
Website address:

Contact details: Tracey McNeilly, SoilTrEC Project Manager, Kroto Research Institute, University of Sheffield, North Campus, Broad Lane, Sheffield, United Kingdom, S3 7HQ