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 SoildiverAgro is the adoption of new management practices and cropping systems that enhance soil genetic and functional biodiversity to reduce the use of external inputs while increasing crop production and quality, the delivery of ecosystem services and the EU agricultural stability and resilience. To achieve this objective 90 farm systems will be analysed in 9 pedoclimatic regions in Europe (covering 86% of the EU-28 territory) and 15 field case studies will be designed and established in six of the pedoclimatic regions. The focus will be on the use of innovative management practices based on soil mycorrhiza and plant growth promoting bacteria (including the development and testing of new commercial products), appropriate management of soil organisms (e.g. fungivores), the application of suitable crop rotations, multiple cropping and intercropping, the development of pest alert systems, the use of nutrient catch crops, the use of trap crops for pest control, the use of by-products as soil ameliorants and the application of adequate tillage systems. SoildiverAgro outputs consider: 1) enhancement of soil biodiversity; 2) reduction of pest/diseases incidence; 3) increases in plant growth and development; 4) increases in crop yields, quality and value; 5) the reduction of inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, water, fuel); 6) increases in soil fertility; 7) reductions of soil contamination; 8) reduction in GHG emissions; and 9) increases in soil C sequestration.
The successful crop management practices will be also analysed from the environmental, economic and social perspectives. Operational diversity targets will be defined, with development of best agricultural practice strategies and tools for existing EU policies update.
A key action for the project success is an adequate engagement of potential end-users, since farmers will not adopt cropping systems and management practices that enhance soil biodiversity unless the socio-economic profitability of an adequate soil biodiversity management is demonstrated to them.
This duration is needed because some of the proposed management practices and cropping systems have not been developed yet, and need to be implemented for several crop cycles to achieve consistent outputs.
Also, tailoring soil biodiversity under multi-disciplinary and multi-actor approach in a decision making process needs long time to ensure an adequate engagement of all actors.