BENCHMARKS: Building a European Network for the Characterisation and Harmonisation of Monitoring Approaches for Research and Knowledge on Soils

Soil health is crucial for challenges related to climate, environment and society. As such, this Soil Health and Food Mission proposal directly links in to the other HE missions, as well as to the European Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategies. Both public and private sectors are proposing a sustainable vision, that depends on a reliable assessment of the effects of management and policy innovations on soil health. Therefore, there is an urgent need to ensure that the EU setsthe benchmark of a reliable cost-effective framework for measuring soil health. In alignment with existing initiatives such as EU Soil Observatory, EJP Soil and the LUCAS Topsoil survey, and using open science approaches, the BENCHMARKS consortium will co-design an Integrated Soil Health Monitoring Framework. This framework will build upon the assessment of soil-based ecosystem functions to co-develop an interactive soil health dashboard for (1) the selection of appropriate soil health indicators, (2) soil health assessment and indexation, and (3) recommendation of management practices to support soil health. The dashboard will be suitable at local, landscape, regional and European scales for a variety of stakeholders in urban, agricultural and forestry land use systems. BENCHMARKS indicators will be relevant to the stakeholder’s objectives, applicable to the different land use systems and pedo-climatic zone and appropriate in terms of logistical, financial and sensitivity requirements. To inform on the appropriate spatial resolution of indicators, the Soil Health Mission and BENCHMARKS proposed indicators (sample-based measurements, stats (data and model derived measurements), space (earth observation techniques)) and citizen science observations will be tested in 24 Living Labs across Europe. Finally, BENCHMARKS will support policy development and value-chain innovation through increased evidence on the links between soil health, functions and ecosystem services.

Deadline 31/12/2027


Institute ISAFOM – Institute for agricultural and forest systems in the Mediterranean

Contact Angelo Basile

ROLE Partner