Towards ecological intensification of agriculture

AGROECOSeqC “AGROECOlogical strategies for an efficient functioning of plant - soil biota interactions to increase SOC sequestration” - EJP SOIL funded project.

The three-year project aims to test different cropping systems at increasing agroecological intensification to identify the best agronomic strategies for improving soil carbon sequestration and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, via increasing ecosystem biodiversity and synchrony between plant demand and soil nutrient availability.

The project will benefit from a network of long-term European experimental devices to investigate how higher plant diversity (i.e., the introduction of agroecological service crops, agroforestry, etc.) and reduced external inputs can promote a better synchrony between plant nutrient demand and soil nutrient availability, mediated by degradation / resynthesis of soil organic matter by microbial biomass. Indeed, the composition and activity of the soil microbiota, shaped by plant biodiversity through rhizodeposition, N-P uptake, microbial symbioses and trophic cascades, will be studied in deep as main actors involved in soil C and nutrient cycles.

The project will investigate the functional diversity of the plant-fauna-microbiome complex, nitrogen leaching, GHG emission and C-sequestration, crop yield and biomass production at nine experimental core-sites in the EU, comparing them with less conservative systems. The main innovation of AGROECOseqC is its holistic assessment of the functional biodiversity of the agroecosystem, considering all players involved in the flow of carbon and nutrients and their interrelationships.

The potential impact of AGROECOseqC will arise from the possibility of identifying different agroecological strategies (conservation agriculture, organic agriculture, agroforestry) as a potential solution for the reduction of C loss in agricultural soils in the long term, with different effectiveness and sustainability in the various European pedoclimatic zones.

The EJP SOIL funded project AGROECOseqC started on 1 November 2021. The project is coordinated by Alessandra Trinchera from CREA Agriculture and Environment (Italy), and the French co-coordination of Sebastien Fontaine from INRAE (Institut national de recherche for agriculture, alimentation et l'environement, France). For more information, click her to go to the AGROECOSeqC website.