World Soil Day, (5th December) is the one day in the year that the United Nations asks us all to think about the role of soil in our daily lives and how it protects us from many environmental problems. If we look to the problems of food supply, flooding, and climate change, many of the answers lie in the soil. This fragile crust of soil is complex and still mysterious, but every year scientific research reveals more about its importance to supporting our lives on earth.
As part of that scientific research, the RECARE project has gathered scientists from across Europe to find practical answers to sustaining healthy soil. From Iceland to Cyprus the research team are testing solutions to urgent problems of soil management, these trials are devised by the scientists working with local farmers and land managers.
Across Europe, test plots are being used to find practical solutions to soil-based problems as diverse as the impacts of wildfire on soil erosion to how to reclaim the soil from the deserts created by arctic winds in Iceland. Through to cleaning up polluted soils in Romania and Spain through planting trees and using plants to mop up toxic metals.
Evenor team, co-leader in Guadiamar Green Corridor Case of Study, with Instituto de Recursos Naturales y Agrobiología de Sevilla (IRNAS), said, «We are excited that the project has reached its mid-point, the community around the trials have been enthusiastic about taking part and making suggestions that we have been able to incorporate into our trails.»
«We know that answering practical questions about Soil Contamination is critical not only to people who live in the area, but also to those who are impacted more widely. Once we have results from our trials, we will then share these not only across Spain but throughout Europe. Work done here in collaboration with local people is going to have international importance as well as solving our problems through better management of the soil».
The University of Wageningen in the Netherlands co-ordinates the project, Prof. Ritsema said;
«We face many environmental challenges in Europe, but we know that we can manage soil more efficiently, and in doing so stop many of the problems people face. From landslides in mountainous areas, through to the flooding in cities caused by sealing over the soil, as soil scientists, we are creating many practical solutions. The RECARE project is working with people who are often affected by damaged soil, and we are using their knowledge to find answers that will make a difference quickly.»
«RECARE is a remarkable collaboration between scientists across Europe; I am sure that in a couple of years, at the end of the project, we will be able to announce a series of steps that can be taken to help preserve soils and protect people from the problems of damaged soil.»