Roadmap for EJP SOIL

The Roadmap report for EJP SOIL is now published. It functions as an agenda for the activities of EJP SOIL and describes a vision for climate-smart and sustainable agricultural soil management.

Moixent, Valencia, Spain. Photo by Saskia Keesstra, Wageningen University, The Nederlands

The past year, EJP SOIL has involved scientists, policymakers and practitioners across Europe in the work to create an agenda for the activities of the program - and to describe a vision for a climate-smart and sustainable agricultural soil management.

The result is now published in the Roadmap for the European Joint Programme SOIL, which can be downloaded here.

Saskia Keesstra from Wageningen University, who has been leading the work, explains:

- In the beginning of the EJP SOIL program, six expected impacts were identified by the European Commission (please see table below), which in different ways could contribute to improve soil fertility in Europe. The next step has been to identify the activities that need to take place in order to achieve these impacts, knowledge gaps that need to be filled by projects funded by EJP SOIL in addition to the different tasks that need to be completed as part of the work packages of EJP SOIL. Having consulted stakeholders in all participating countries, we are now able to present the agenda for these activities - the Roadmap for EJP SOIL.

What needs to be done?

The roadmap chapters relate to the six expected impacts, but not one-to-one. For example, the first chapter concerns climate change mitigation, which relates to expected impact 1a and 2.   

Each chapter starts with a description of the state-of-the-art research in the area concerned, including an identification of knowledge gaps. This is followed by a set of outputs and activities designed to deliver these outputs. Each chapter ends with a list of planned work package tasks and proposed topics that can be developed into an internal or external call for projects.

In the case of climate change mitigation, the topics for example include “preserving and managing SOC (soil organic carbon) in peatland and organic soils” and “understanding SOC sequestration”. The projects from the upcoming third internal call and the two external calls related to climate change mitigation will therefore be selected from these topics.

The work package tasks related to climate change mitigation for example includes work package 8, which will contribute to developing farm-scale C accounting systems.

How did the roadmap come about?

In order to assure that the EJP SOIL roadmap addresses the knowledge needs of all participating countries, a broad European inventory of stakeholders was conducted.

Lars Munkholm, who is the National Coordinator for EJP SOIL in Denmark, explains:

- Each partner made a list of national stakeholders, after which most countries established a National hub for consultation. The stakeholders consulted included academics, policymakers, NGOs and farmer organizations - that is, all EJP SOIL stakeholder groups apart from members of the general public and civil society, who will be involved through dissemination and and outreach activities. A three-step approach was then followed to identify the knowledge needs from across Europe.

In step 1, stakeholders were asked for their aspirational targets. In step 2, knowledge availability and use were investigated by a review of current agricultural soil research activities, soil-based policies, and an assessment of the availability and use of the knowledge. Finally, in step 3, the barriers and opportunities to reach the aspirational targets were identified.

The work continues

The roadmap will be followed by an implementation plan that will engage European member states and stakeholders across Europe in joining forces to collaborate on research and complementary activities for agricultural soil management.

However, the work related to the roadmap is not over yet:

- The roadmap will be updated annually with information from within and outside the program to identify topics that will guide program activities. And, at the end of the EJP SOIL program, a 10-year soil research roadmap will be delivered, Saskia Keesstra concludes.

Table: The six expected impacts of EJP SOIL

  1. Fostering understanding of soil management and its influence on climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable agricultural production and environment.
  2. Understanding how soil-carbon sequestration can contribute to climate change mitigation at the regional level and accounting for carbon.
  3. Strengthening scientific capacities and cooperation across Europe including training young soil scientists.
  4. Supporting harmonized European soil information, including for international reporting. 
  5. Fostering the uptake of soil management practices conducive to climate change adaptation and mitigation.
  6. Develop and demonstrate region- and context-specific fertilization practices (soil, water and pedoclimatic conditions). 

Read more about the EJP SOIL expected impacts, targets and objectives - click here

Additional information

Read more in the articles below

Synthesis of the impact of sustainable soil management practices in Europe

Stocktaking on soil quality indicators and associated decision support tools, including ICT tools

Synthesis on estimates of achievable soil carbon sequestration on agricultural land across Europe

Report on identified regional, national and European aspirations on soil services and soil functions

Set of reports on State of knowledge in agricultural soil management

Report on the current availability and use of soil knowledge

Inventory of the use of models for accounting and policy support (soil quality and soil carbon)

Stocktake study and recommendations for harmonizing methodologies for fertilization guidelines



Saskia Keesstra, Wageningen University,

Lars Munkholm, Aarhus University,