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Boosting 4 BEST practices for SOIL health in Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BEST4SOIL (Boosting 4 BEST practices for SOIL health in Europe)

Período documentado: 2020-04-01 hasta 2022-03-31

The importance of healthy soils
Healthy soils are of major importance for the future of the European horticultural and agricultural crop production, in order to provide healthy and sustainable produced food to the European society. Especially in intensive production systems all over Europe soil health is at stake, several soil borne diseases and nematodes have a negative impact on soil health and on crop production. Newly developed best practices and sound crop rotations permit farmers to maintain, improve or re-establish soil health in their fields.

Best4Soil is a thematic network about soil health in Europe. The project provided information through factsheets and videos on soil health topics, and created a soil health network accross Europe for growers, advisers, educators and researchers. The network promoted and exchanged knowledge ready for practice on 4 best practices for the control of soil borne diseases and nematodes. The project also developed an open-access database and a Decision Support Tool with information on a range of soil borne diseases and nematodes that affect vegetable, arable and cover crops. This tool helps farmers and advisers to develop healthy crop rotations and to implement innovative control strategies. With the information from Best4Soil, growers can innovate their soil health management strategies .

All information is edited in 22 EU languages, freely accessible, to guarantee a smooth knowledge transfer from research to practice.

Best4Soil organized more than 140 workshops and created 52 communities of practice (CoP) in 10 different countries, to share knowledge and find solutions for regional soil health issues. Best4Soil deployed local facilitators for developing the soil health network, they organized trainings and project promotion, facilitated the set-up of communities of practice and collected feedback from practice.

Visit the project website for all the information: www.Best4Soil.eu. Linked to the website you also find the interactive Decision Support Tools, providing tailor made information for farmers. The website will be available for at least 5 more years, but the ambition from the consortium is to keep the website and databases available far beyond this period.

Conclusions. Soil health is and will be an important topic in the years to come. Best4Soil compiled information about the biological part of soil health. The 'ready for practice' information compiled in Best4Soil is highly valued by the target groups, and shared with large numbers of farmers, advisors, researchers, educators and people working in supply chain. Best4Soil results are relevant for achieving the goals of the European soil heath strategy.
First proiect activities were: 1) building the website www.best4soil.eu 2) data mining for the databases and 3) the construction of the databases (one for nematodes and one for soil borne pathogens). The two open access databases contain information on the host status and potential damage of many soil borne diseases and nematodes for the most important arable and vegetable crops and green manures. Front end of the databases is a Decision Support Tool, an interactive tool that helps farmers and advisers to build healthy crop rotations. The tools are accessible through the following links: https://fungi.soilhealthtool.eu/en-gb/Pathogen-scheme and https://nematodes.soilhealthtool.eu/en-gb/Nematode-scheme. By the end of the project, 3.400 people used the database for nematodes, 4.200 the pathogen database.

Another important activity was the production of 20 videos about the 4 best practices: green manure crops, compost and other organic amendments, anaerobic soil disinfestation and (bio)-solarisation. The videos were produced in English and afterwards translated into 21 other languages, by native speakers. For each video there is a factsheet with additional information about the topic, also available in English and 21 other languages.

Best4Soil produced 50 practice abstracts, published on the EIP website: The factsheets are available at the EIP website: https://ec.europa.eu/eip/agriculture/en/news/factsheets-soil-health%C2%A0%C2%A0-%C2%A0

In the second phase of the project the focus was on commumication and dissemination of results.

For communication the project used social media: Twitter, Facebook , LinkedIn and Youtube. The project has 312 followers on LinkedIn, with an average of 13.834 impressions, 1.666 followers on Facebook, with a post reach up to 300.000 on 1 post and 873 followers on Twitter with 364.800 impressions. Through Youtube the project reached a large number of people: 3.873 subscribers, the total number of views of the videos was 435.000 and the total of impressions 3.800.000 by the end of the project. An overview from the Best4Soil videos can be found on https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxNdPKKgUvqtEX-lKu26_pw/playlists.

For dissemination Best4Soil organized training workshops and other events. From November 2020 to March 2021 the project organized online workshops in 4 different climatic zones in Europe. The change to an online event opened the opportunity to organize sessions in national languages, and a plenary session in English. Herewith we created the opportunity for not English speaking people to join the workshops. The total number of participants of the workshops was 1.737. In 83 workshops we trained 2.443 persons on several soil health topics. Anotheractivity was the initiation of Communities of Practice (CoPs). In total we initiated 52 CoPs, with a total number of 553 participants.

The videos and factsheets were promoted to educational institutes accross Europe, more than 600 institutes were contacted. Around 30 confirmed that they will use the Best4Soil material.

Project results were presented on the final conference, including the feedback we received. The final conference had 726 participants. The video play list of the conference in the Best4Soil YouTube channel and got 2.716 viewers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F11l-mzW6Qs&list=PLBW9RvjqRHrtgj11TXihP3Ng49OCyqWjj.
Despite the fact that soil health is a concern of many, we also see that knowledge about specific soil health problems and access to information is limited in many countries. The Best4Soil provides such information, and the best practices, databases and Decision Support Tools can help to solve problems in practice, this was confirmed by the feedback we received during the project. The Best4Soil results are widely shared in Europe and are used by a growing number of farmers and advisors. Educational institutes use the Best4Soil information for teaching the farmers of the future. Implementation of Best4Soil best practices and use of the Decision Support Tools will have impact a positive impact on soil health in Europe and will reduce the impact of soil borne diseases on crop yield and quality and will reduce the input of chemical soil disinfectants. The videos, factsheets and Decision Support Tools remain available and are free to use. In fact we see that the videos are still watched on YoutTube and the Decision Support Tools are still used. The results of Best4Soil are shared with EUFRAS (European Forum for Agricultural and Rural Advisory Services). EFRAS has 47 members in 28 countries, representing a large number of advisors, working in the arable and open field sectors, that can and will use the Best4Soil results in their future work with farmers.
Cover crops during winter