First External Call - OPEN

Closing date for proposals on 7th of September 2021

The European Joint Programme “EJP SOIL - Towards climate-smart sustainable management of agricultural soils” comprise 24 countries committed to the overall goal of providing sustainable agricultural soil management solutions that contribute to key societal challenges including climate change and future food supply.

Rationale & Aim of the call

The objective of this call is to foster holistic agricultural (forestry soils are not excluded) soil management practices which will assist in making a shift to diversify farming to include a variety of sustainable and environmental practices.

Knowledge gaps in the area of SOC sequestration need to be closed, e.g. by developing soil management options which help to protect existing stocks of soil carbon and store additional C through sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere. Effective CO2 sequestration can help reduce GHG emissions thereby helping to fulfil the objectives of the European Green Deal.

Another objective is to make a shift from those agricultural practices that contributes to soil degradation, towards, more sustainable practices and methods. This not only addresses sustainable production but also a healthy environment, which can be achieved by, enhancing knowledge about biodiversity, and understanding functionalities and interactions in soils. Strong population growth combined with climate change challenges has placed food security high on the global agenda and therefore it is one of the key elements of the EU’s Farm to Fork strategy. Sustainable production refers to not only healthy soil management but also addresses research in respect of water storage, soil salinization and biodiversity, while considering climate change.

Drastic changes are required to some of our current farming systems to modify agriculture’s practises as a provider of adequate, safe and healthy food that is produced in a manner that is sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Thus, interested project consortia should apply to one of the three topics:

A) Understanding SOC sequestration (stabilization, storage and persistence)

  • Saturation of C sequestration in organic matter of different soil forms (including C sequestration potential, quantification of stable C, how to increase the amount of C in different soils, influence of organo-mineral interactions on saturation and stabilization of C).
  • Understanding the mechanism of SOC persistence in soil and subsoil (influence of minerals, microorganism and organic matter, stoichiometry of C-N-P).
  • Dynamic interactions of SOC and greenhouse gasses (primarily CO2, N2O and CH4) emissions.
  • Management practices on different agriculture and forest soil types in order to minimize greenhouse gas emission.

B) Soil biodiversity: status, and role in ecosystem services provided by soils

  • Development of holistic indicators and target values to define healthy soils for agricultural productivity, for example soil fertility, biodiversity, resilience, nutrient levels and soil-microbe-plant interactions.
  • Understanding the functional role of soils in the provision of ecosystem services, e.g. the provision of food and non-food crops, nutrient cycling, water storage and filtration.
  • Understanding the role of fauna, microbiome, plants and their interactions on maintaining, enhancing and restoring healthy and resilient soils for agricultural productivity.
  • Impact of novel soil amendment (e.g. fiber sludges from the paper and pulp industry) materials to soil biota.

C) Site-specific or landscape-scale approaches to improve sustainability, resilience, health, and productivity of soils

  • Innovative practices and/or technologies* that maximise the storage of organic carbon in soils (protecting existing stocks or sequestration).
  • Management strategies and agronomic management, including precision farming, that help reduce net emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from soils.
  • Integrated management of farming systems, farm-networks, and agroecosystems, including for example, diversification of production, agroecological approaches, smart fertility/fertiliser management. 
  • Technologies, practices and management approaches to increase farming systems’ sustainability and resilience to climate change.
  • Technologies, practices, and management approaches that contribute to the restoration of landscapes and the maintenance of natural capital.
  • Evaluation of the applicability of site-specific technologies or practices for different pedo-climatic zones and farming systems, and taking into account socio-economic issues.

*Technologies include but are not limited to, digital tools, drones and sensors, autonomous robots, tillage and traffic management, precision fertilization, weed and pest control, irrigation, amongst others

Click here to read more detailed information in the document call announcement and on the submission website.

Partnering Tool

In addition, a partnering tool is attached to the submission platform, where project partnerships can be offered or searched for. 

Budget, funding modalities, eligibility criteria and project types

The Funding Parties from the following countries and organisations will provide funds for the Call:

Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia and United Kingdom. In addition the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases will also participate in this call as funders and the following countries can apply to GRA funding: Argentina, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Malaysia, Malawi, Mexico, Mongolia, Namibia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Uruguay, Viet Nam, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

Research partners from not participating countries can be part of research consortia if they bring in their own funding.

The Call will be implemented using an online submission tool. It consists of a platform, where applicants can find all information necessary for the preparation and submission of proposals.

Click here for access to the submission tool. 

All proposals must fulfil the general as wells as the applicable national eligibility criteria

General eligibility criteria are:

  1. Proposals must be written in English
  2. Proposals must be complete and in accordance to the procedure and must be submitted via the online submission tool
  3. A project summary must be submitted and the coordinator and partners must registered until 25th June 2021 13:00 CET (Pre-registration) via the online submission tool
  4. Complete proposals must be submitted until 07th September 2021 16:00 CET via the submission tool
  5. Consortia must include at least three eligible partners requesting funding from at least three different EXCBF member countries who contribute funds to the Call. There is no maximum number of partners. However, the EXCBF of the call recommends that applying consortia should not include more than ten partners requesting funding.
  6. The involvement of applicants not seeking funding from any of the Funding Parties listed below is additional to the 3 minimum entities
  7. The same person cannot act as a coordinator for more than one proposal
  8. Applicants should avoid duplication with projects funded or submitted in other calls in the H2020 programme or ERA-NETs
  9. Each applying consortium must be led by a project coordinator, who must be from an organisation that is eligible for funding from its Funding Party. Applicants seeking funding from the GRA are eligible as project partners, but cannot apply as project coordinator.
  10. Applicants must complete an ethics self assessment as part of the application
  11. Applicants ineligible to receive funding from any of the Funding Parties of the 1st external call of EJP SOIL are welcome to contribute to project consortia if they can secure their own expenses and hence have to submit a “letter of financial commitment” (see Annex E). However these applicants cannot be coordinator and their contribution should not be essential for the project’s successful implementation (achieving of milestones) and they will not count towards the minimum number of partners. Same applies to associated partners.
  12. The minimum project duration is 24 months and the maximum is 36 months

Participating Countries



Budget (k€)


Global research alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases



National Institute of Agriculture Technology



Centre wallon de recherches agronomiques*



Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek – Vlaanderen



Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada



Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung



Maa- ja metsätalousministeriö



Agence nationale de la recherche



National Research, Development and Innovation Office



Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine



Ministero delle politiche agricole alimentari e forestali



The ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Lithuania



Norwegian Research Council



Ministry for Primary Industries



The National Centre for Research and Development



Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia



Department of State scientific and technological policy in the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation



Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation


Indicative Timeline

The call will be conducted as one-step-procedures but a preliminary registration of the project (which includes a project summary and registration of all potential partners) in the submission tool is mandatory:




April  6th   2021

Launch of the Call

April  29th   2021

Webinar for interested applicants

May 25th 2021

Deadline Registration of project

June 25th 2021

Deadline Proposal submission

Sept 07th 2021

Proposal evaluation and selection

Sept-Nov 2021

Aimed start of research projects

Dec 2021-Jan 2022

Call Office contacts

The call office will be operated by Project management Jülich (Germany):

NAME:                   Ulrike Ziegler                            Christian Breuer

Organisation:          Jülich                                           Jülich

Phone:                    +49 2429 90 88 055                       +49 2465 30 58 847


The EJP SOIL programme has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 862695