Soil performs vital ecological, social and economic services for society. Its importance for the production of food, fibre and wood has been long recognised, as has its role as a surface for housing and infrastructure development. However, it is now recognised that soil also filters and buffers contaminants, allowing us to have clean drinking water, it acts as a pool of biodiversity, and it acts as a sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide. It even provides an archive of cultural heritage.
However, soil is subjected to some serious threats, making it a priority environmental issue at European level - as recognised by the EU Soil Protection Strategy. The main threats come from: inadequate farming and forestry practices; urban and industrial development; tourism; climate change; and major hydro-geological events such as flooding and landslides.
These threats can cause soil degradation in the form of: soil erosion; a decline in inorganic matter content; the loss of soil biodiversity; soil contamination; salinisation; soil compaction; and soil sealing. Arid areas are particularly vulnerable to processes of soil erosion, leading to desertification, which is very difficult to rectify.
The LIFE REGEN FARMING project?s main objective is to demonstrate successful regenerative agricultural practices for preventing soil degradation and improving soil quality. The project will test potential good practices in pasture management under different climatic and agricultural conditions.
It will also test regenerative practices for soil conservation, including the use of crops with minimum tillage, perennial crops, organic fertilizers, direct seeding and rotational grazing. These practices will be tested in-situ, on agricultural sites.
The project team will develop easy-to-use, fast and cheap diagnostic and monitoring methodologies to evaluate soil health, such as Agro-ecosystem Health Cards (TSAs) and chromatograms. Monitoring will then assess the environmental and socio-economic impact of the regenerative practices on farms.
By identifying the best practices in land use and management, the project hopes to promote real improvements in soil quality and biodiversity conservation. To support this, it will also provide quality training to farmers and technicians in the field of regenerative practices and sustainable agriculture. It thus expects to make an important contribution to the achievement of the goals of the EU?s Soil Thematic Strategy and the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy.
Expected results: Successful demonstration of the environmental and socio-economic benefits of soil regeneration practices in different grazing areas, with the following targets: