Nine multinational projects will receive over €63 million in funding from Horizon Europe, the EU research and innovation programme. They have recently signed their grant agreements with the Commission and some are already starting.
What are the projects expected to do?
The EU Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’ aims to lead the transition towards healthy soils by 2030. Research is key to achieving its objectives. To support the development of a coherent research and innovation (R&I) portfolio, the project SOLO aims to co-create and identify knowledge gaps, priorities, novel approaches, and key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor the progress of the Mission R&I activities.
To support a more harmonised reporting on soil health among Member States in alignment with LUCAS and the EU Soil Observatory work, the projects BENCHMARKS and AI4SoilHealth will validate and further develop indicators to measure, monitor and assess soil health and functions making use of integrated frameworks and Artificial Intelligence.
SOIL O-LIVE will explore the connection between soil health and nutritional and safe food. The project will work on the most important areas of olive production in the Mediterranean region and study how soil health influences the nutritional composition, tastiness and safety of olive oil.
The development of new incentives and sustainable business models will be key to supporting soil health. INBESTSOIL will test the incorporation of an economic valuation system of ecosystem services delivered by healthy soils in five business models. NOVASOIL will study four business models that allow the creation of new incentives from healthy soils. The project SOILVALUES is expected to explore financial mechanisms such as equity investment or compensation for risk or cost reduction, as well as hybrid incentive schemes and develop at least six business models to help land managers to make decisions.
To support the establishment of soil health living labs, NATI00NS will act as a messenger of the Mission to national and regional stakeholders. They will organise national engagement sessions and provide access to capacity building materials and information. The aim is to spur discussions on the best Living-Lab setups to address regional soil needs and foster early matchmaking for future applicants to the living lab calls.
Finally, NBSoil project will support the much-needed next generation of soil advisors with a blended learning programme to enable them to implement a holistic vision of soil health through nature-based solutions.
The upcoming projects include the participation of research institutes, industry, SMEs, farmers, foresters and citizens associations. The projects tap into the expertise from EU countries and international partners, including Norway, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Serbia, Morocco and Tunisia.
Projects will build on the work of the previously awarded project PREPSOIL, which has been preparing the ground for the Mission, healthy soils, and building capacities for engagement, outreach and knowledge.
How were the projects selected?
The 2021 Soil Mission Callfor funding opened on 22 December 2021 and closed on 24 March 2022. The European Research Executive Agency (REA) received 40 proposals. The selected projects received the highest marks in a peer evaluation run by independent experts.
About the EU Mission: ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’
Rooted in Horizon Europe but going beyond research and innovation, the mission intends to assist Europe’s path to sustainable soil management as part of the wider green transition, and will fund actions across sectors and territories (rural, peri-urban and urban areas including across borders).
Keep up-to-date with these projects—as well as other innovative research—by following REA on Twitter and LinkedIn. You will get the latest news on events they may organise as well as their research outcomes. Subscribe to the Cluster 6 newsletter for updates also on the Soil Mission straight into your inbox.
Source: European Research Executive Agency I News (https://bit.ly/3F33awv)