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Boosting 4 BEST practices for SOIL health in Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BEST4SOIL (Boosting 4 BEST practices for SOIL health in Europe)

Período documentado: 2018-10-01 hasta 2020-03-31

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, a thematic network about soil health in Europe. The project provides information through factsheets and videos on soil health topics, and organizes a soil health network throughout Europe. A network that inter-connects growers, advisers, educators and researchers. The network promotes and exchanges 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 . The main objective of the Best4Soil thematic network is to maintain, improve or re-establish soil health in Europe.

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

BEST4SOIL uses three approaches for optimal soil health:
• the adaptation of optimised crop rotation to prevent build-up of soil borne diseases, which is specific to the needs and situation of each individual grower
• the implementation of best practices that have a preventive effect: the use of compost, organic amendments, cover crops and green manures.
• the implementation of best practices, for non-chemical control of soil borne diseases and nematodes, in order to reduce inoculum levels: anaerobic soil disinfestation, (bio)solarisation and biofumigation.

Best4Soil organizes training workshops and creates communities of practice
Best4Soil creates communities of practice (CoP) in 20 countries, to share knowledge on regional soil health issues. Best4Soil deploys local facilitators for developing the soil health network, to organize trainings, facilitate the set-up of communities of practice and to collect feedback from practice. The BEST4SOIL consortium includes advisers, breeder, communicators, educators, growers, and researchers from eight European countries. Together with facilitators in twelve more EU countries, the network will interconnect an important part of the European growers, advisers and educators, the main stakeholders of Best4Soil.

Visit the project website to get in contact or to find all technical information and contact information from the national facilitators: Linked to the website you also find the interactive Decision Support Tool, providing tailor made information for farmers for their specific situation.
From the beginning of the project we achieved the following results:
1.The project website, with all the technical information on soil health:
-Video's and fact sheets on specific best practices for soil health management. The videos give general information on the best practices, in the fact sheets we provide additional information.
- Two open access databases with 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.
- A Decision Support Tool, in interactive tool that helps farmers and advisers to build a healthy crop rotation. The tool allows farmers to analyse the risk for nematodes and soil borne diseases in the crop rotation they use, and to find options for managing these risks

2. Best4Soil has facilitators in 20 European countries. These facilitators are the national contact points for the projectg, they promote the project, organize the network in their country and give workshops and trainings.
3. Best4Soil promotes the project and shares information through Youtube, Facebook and Twitter
Healthy soils is a concern of many practitioners, advisors, researchers and policy officials. But soil health is threatened in many places, by intensive management practices and by soil borne diseases. Despite the fact that soil health is a concern of many, we also see that many people have rather limited knowledge about specific soil health problems they suffer from, and even awareness of local soil health problems is lacking. One of the reasons is that relevant information is not available in many places in Europe or not easy to find. This is specific the case for information on soil borne pathogens and nematodes. The Best4Soil databases are a perfect instrument to helping to solve this problem. This instrument is new for most farmers and advisors in Europe, and contains excellent information in a practical way. This was the clear feedback during the training workshop for facilitators, conducted in November 2019. The databases give farmers and advisors the opportunity:
1) to make a risk analysis for individual farm conditions,
2) to take clever decisions for specific soil analysis,
3) to identify management options for a better/healthier crop rotation by combining crop rotation with Best Practices, and
4) to select best management options for the prevention and control of soil borne diseases and pathogens.

As this instrument is complete new for many countries, it can deliver a strong contribution to improved soil health management in European countries and reduce the impact of soil borne diseases on crop yield and quality and the input of chemical soil disinfectants.
White clover, cover crop with fixation of N into the soil
Picture of Anaerobic soil disinfestation
Cover crops during winter
Tagetes, cover crop and strong control of nematode Pratylenchus penetrans
Compost in the field, waiting to be spread