Pillar 1 – Soil Navigator

pillar_01This Pillar will oversee the development of a Decision Support Tool for farmers and advisors, which we will name the Soil Navigator (analogous to the ‘Carbon Navigator’ by Murphy et al., 2013). This Soil Navigator will provide a menu of user-friendly soil management strategies in order to manage the soil functions on individual farms (local scale). This menu will be stratified by pedo-climatic zone and farming system.

Farmers and extension services participating in LANDMARK are actively involved in developing and testing this tool. Pillar 1 team is co-ordinated by Prof Christian Bugge Henriksen (University of Copenhagen) and involves partners from Slovenia, Austria, Ireland, Switzerland and The Netherlands. More info here.

 Pillar 2 – soil functions monitoring schema

pillar_02This Pillar is developing a monitoring schema for the range of soil functions associated with different soil types, land-uses and European major climatic zones (Boreal, Atlantic, Continental, Mediterranean and Pannonian) (regional scale). Many indicators have been developed in the past which focus on threats to soil quality (Kibblewhite et al., 2008) but this terminology has proven difficult to communicate with farmers and land-managers at the local scale (Schulte et al., 2014).

Therefore LANDMARK is focusing on indicators that provide the end-user with an assessment of soil functionality instead of threats. The selection of indicators has been performed on existing datasets, as several of the project partners have large scale databases on measurements of soil functions. The selection of these regional indicators is synchronous and harmonised with the selection of the on-farm in Pillar 1, and has been reviewed with the main stakeholders of this Pillar. The regional indicators are tested at 100 sites across Europe, based on a soil diagnostic features x land-use matrix for the major climatic zones of Europe. Pillar 2 team is co-ordinated by Prof Rachel Creamer (Wageningen University). More info here.

Pillar 3 – EU policy options for Functional Land Management

pillar_03This Pillar 3 is providing an assessment of policy tools for optimising the supply of soil functions at EU scale. The partners of the LANDMARK consortium have developed the concept of Functional Land Management (Schulte et al., 2014): this is a framework for matching the supply of, and demand for, soil functions at large spatial scales. Examples include changes in land management practices to incentivise intensive food production on fertile soils (to meet global dietary requirements), to support nutrient provision/cycling (with relevance for resource use efficiency), to maintain the demand for water purification (in order to meet the WFD requirements) and to meet the need for soil carbon sequestration (to contribute to EU GHG reduction targets).

LANDMARK is using European databases to define sets of proxy indicators for the five groups of soil functions. These functions will be assessed across the same land-use x soil type matrix used in Pillars 1 and Pillar 2. This policy-oriented Pillar 3 is led by Dr Arwyn Jones (European Commission DG JRC) and includes input from Pillars 1 and 2. This Pillar has an intercontinental perspective, as it works with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Sao Paulo to facilitate shared learning on a range of incentivisation programmes and implementation schemes for soil management. More info here.