The newly funded EU-project SmartSOIL had its kick-off meeting in Brussels on November 10-11 2011. FAO participates in SmartSOIL as a member of the advisory panel and is represented by Caterina Batello, team leader AGPME, with Christian Nolte, Senior Officer Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition management as alternate.
SmartSOIL focuses on arable and mixed farming systems in Europe and will develop an innovative approach using the soil C flow and stocks concept to assess the impact of C management on crop productivity, soil organic C (SOC) stocks and other ecosystem services. SmartSOIL will identify and develop options to increase C stocks and optimise C use (flows) whilst maintaining sustainable SOC stocks. The flow and stocks concept will delineate short- versus long-term management effects on vital soil functions through meta-analyses of data from thirty three European long-term experiments (LTE). The new understanding will be used to improve existing soil and crop simulation models and test the models against independent LTE data.
The models will then be used to derive a simplified model to estimate the short- and long-term effects of management on crop productivity and SOC storage. Scenarios of future management systems in Europe for improved productivity and enhanced SOC sequestration will be evaluated under current and future climate. The cost-effectiveness of alternative policy measures and options for managing SOC flows and stocks for improved productivity and SOC storage will be assessed based on the simplified model.
SmartSOIL will develop a decision support tool (DST) to enable farmers, advisors and policy makers to discuss and select the most appropriate and cost-effective practices for particular farming systems, soils and climates. SmartSOIL will engage key stakeholders in case study regions and the wider EU in the development of the DST, guidelines and policy recom¬mendations, and will inform the scientific and user community on progress and results.
SmartSOIL is coordinated by Prof. Jørgen E. Olesen from the Dept. of Agroecology at Aarhus University, Denmark. As usual in large EU-funded projects SmartSOIL has a long list of participating institutions:
- Aarhus University (AU), Denmark
- University of Aberdeen (UNIABDN), UK (Scotland)
- University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark
- Alterra Alterra, Netherlands
- University of Florence (UNIFI), Italy
- Ecologic Institute (Ecologic), Germany
- Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (UPM), Spain
- Scottish Agricultural College (SAC), UK (Scotland)
- Countryside and Comm. Res. Inst. (UoG), UK
- Szkola Glowna Gospodarst. Wiejs. (SGGW), Poland
- Le Groupe-conseil baastel sprl (BTL), Belgium
- Research Institute for Ag. Econ. (AKI), Hungary
SmartSOIL has its own website for more information: www.smartsoil.eu
It was also discussed how to link up SmartSOIL with similar work undertaken by colleagues from the joint FAO/IAEA division in Vienna and with long-term field experiments in Africa, a project of TSBF-CIAT and the World Agroforestry Center, in which FAO participates. It is hoped that synergies between all these projects will improve our understanding of the carbon dynamic in different cropping systems on diverse soils so that sound guidelines for policy makers of best management practices for soil health and climate change mitigation can be produced for the respective regions.