Main research question
With the long-term view of fostering synergies between crop production, biodiversity and the delivery of ecosystem services of local, regional and global relevance, the main objective of the SoildiverAgro project is the adoption of new management practices and cropping systems. These systems should enhance soil genetic and functional biodiversity to reduce the use of external inputs while increasing crop production and quality, the delivery of ecosystem services (for example pest control, climate mitigation, soil health) and the European agricultural stability, resilience and competitiveness.
The SoildiverAgro project is a European financed H2020-project consisting of a consortium of 22 partners from 7 European countries. For Belgium, the research partners are ILVO, PSKW, Inagro en Pomona. Initially, the status of biodiversity will be assessed in 90 croplands spread over 9 pedoclimatic regions in Europe. The results will be used as reference for 15 field case studies in which the use of innovative management practices based on soil mycorrhiza and plant growth promoting bacteria, the application of alternative crop rotations, the development of pest alert systems, the use of nutrient catch crops, organic soil ameliorants and trap crops for pest control, will be investigated. The most promising management practices and cropping systems will additionally be evaluated on an environmental, economic and social point of view.
The agricultural sector is essential for food production. However, loss of soil biodiversity adversely affects functioning, stability, resilience and adaptability of agro-ecosystems. The SoildiverAgro project wants to deal with this challenge in terms of providing alternative agricultural management systems for a secured food production for EU citizens alongside a fair standard of living for farmers, the protection of the environment, climate change mitigation and the sustainable management of natural resources as defined in the European Common Agricultural Policy, the EU Soil Thematic Strategy and the EU Biodiversity Strategy. An agricultural management manual, social media, (inter-)national events, different form of publications, a web-based Decision Support Tool and a community of practitioners will guarantee the implementation of the proposed systems by farmers, any stakeholder and policy services and will inform the general public.