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13.10.2023 | Hochschule für Life Sciences

Taking action on today’s challenges in soil health

First edition of the European Healthy Soils Conference highlights obstacles and opportunities

From September 13-15, 2023, about 150 soil researchers, policy makers and industrial actors from over 15 countries gathered at the FHNW School of Life Sciences in Muttenz, near Basel.

During this first edition of the European Healthy Soils Conference, co-organized by the FHNW School of Life Sciences, Agroscope, and the European Federation of Biotechnology, participants had the opportunity to dig into a diversity of perspectives and recommendations.

The urgency to take action, not getting caught in the weeds, bringing in all levels of stakeholders, especially farmers, and moving from theory to practice were the take-home messages.

That was Healthy Soils #1

The research and outcomes of the conference will be published in a special edition of the European Journal of Soil Science on Earth Day, April 22, 2024. This collection of articles can guide policymakers, researchers, industry, and farmers in taking next steps collectively to address soil challenges that lie ahead.

Some highlights include:

  • Insights into the EU mission A Soil Deal for Europe, its Living Labs and Lighthouses initiative, and the work of the Joint Research Council’s Soil Observatory, shared by Peter Wehrheim, Luis Sachez Alvarez, Niels Halberg and Serenella Sala.
  • A look into soil diversity on our planet, from Peter Schad and Sebastian Dötterl.
  • A deeper understanding of soil microbiology including the fascinating powers of fungi, from Katie Field and Matthias Rillig.
  • The challenges to overcome in the fight against hunger, presented by Natalia Rodriguez Eugenio from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (org).
  • Progress and obstacles in the circular economy, including microplastic degradation and the role soils play in mitigating climate change, by Giulia Gregori and Axel Don.
  • Workshops focusing on regenerative agriculture and on indicators of healthy soils, including a lively exchange with the audience who asked difficult and important questions.

Our Institute for Chemistry and Bioanalytics and Institute for Ecopreneurship collaborated to host the event at our impressive campus in Muttenz. The conference was chaired by Sebastian Wendeborn in collaboration with Thomas Gross, Reto Meuli, and Alexander Wissemeier. Pascal Boivin, Bettina Hitzfeld and Natalia Rodriguez Eugenio organized the workshops.

FHNW Campus Muttenz

Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz FHNW Hofackerstrasse 30 4132 Muttenz
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