First External Call - Projects selected

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 

The objective 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.

Seleceted projects contribute to the below 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

Projects (click the project to view a project summary)

SOMPACS - Click her to see a presentation video of the project

Soil management effects on soil organic matter properties and carbon sequestration


Preadapting soil biology for increased tolerance to elevated salinities due to climate change


Soil management effects on soil organic matter properties and carbon sequestration


True SOC sequestration: understanding trade-offs and dynamic interactions between SOC stocks and GHG emissions for climate-smart agri-soil management


Organic and inorganic carbon dynamics in calcareous soils

WISH-ROOTS - Click her to see a presentation video of the project                           

Tuning the wheat root microbiome to improve soil health and optimize rhizosphere nitrogen cycling and availability


Impact of long-term phosphorus additions on Carbon sequestration and Nitrogen Cycling in Agricultural soils


The effect of conservation agriculture interventions on greenhouse gas emissions


Development of Synbiotics for enhancing the soil microbiome


Symbiotic Solutions for Healthy Agricultural Landscapes

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