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Regenerative agricultural practices: demonstration of an alternative sustainable management of agrarian soils

Reference: LIFE12 ENV/ES/000232 | Acronym: LIFE REGEN FARMING

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

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.


OBJECTIVES

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:

  • An increase of at least 5% in perennial grass species and grass diversity;
  • A 10% improvement in biomass production;
  • A 10% improvement in soil fertility ? as measured by its capacity to hold water, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous and molybdenum;
  • A 10% increase in carbon fixation in the grass;
  • A reduction in the use of fertilisers;
  • A reduction in the cost of grazing animals for food and emissions per kg, accompanied by an improvement in meat quality;
  • A 10% improvement in the economic viability of livestock farming.

  • ADMINISTRATIVE DATA


    Reference: LIFE12 ENV/ES/000232
    Acronym: LIFE REGEN FARMING
    Start Date: 01/07/2013
    End Date: 30/12/2016
    Total Budget: 1,338,821 €
    EU Contribution: 669,110 €
    Project Location:

    CONTACT DETAILS


    Coordinating Beneficiary: NEIKER - Instituto Vasco de Investigacion y Desarrollo Agrario
    Legal Status: PNC
    Address: C/ Berreaga 1, 48160, Derio, España
    Contact Person: Yolanda Fernández
    Email: yfernandez@neiker.net
    Tel: 34944034300
    Website: http://www.neiker.net


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    ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

    THEMES

    • Agriculture - Forestry

    KEYWORDS

    • agricultural method
    • soil degradation

    BENEFICIARIES

    Name Type
    NEIKER - Instituto Vasco de Investigacion y Desarrollo Agrario Coordinator
    Urduñederra-Urduna Ederra S.L., Spain Participant
    Instituto Navarro de Tecnologías e Infraestructuras Agroalimentarias S.A. (INTIA), Spain Participant

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