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Communication at the 3rd Global Soil Biodiversity Conference

Soil metal contamination is a worldwide problem of great magnitude. Phytomanagement is based on the use of plants to reduce and control risks arising from soil pollution while at the same time restoring and generating other wider site services. The PHY2SUDOE project maintains a network of contaminated sites that have been under phytomanagement for many years in Portugal, Spain, and France. The aim of this study was to evaluate the long-term effects of phytomanagement with Populus sp.  on soil biodiversity and complexity at different levels of the trophic web. Composite soil samples were taken in the contaminated sites ST Médard D’Eyrans (Gironde, FR), Chaban-Delmas (Girode, FR), Borralha (Montalegre, PT), Ariñez (Vitoria-Gasteiz, ES), and Touro (Galicia, ES), both under phytomanagement and non-phytomanaged controls. Then, metabarcoding analyses of 16SrRNA, ITS, 18S rRNA and COI genes were carried out. The diversity, composition and complexity of the soil prokaryotic, fungal, and invertebrate communities were affected by the long-term phytomanagement practices. Site-specific soil characteristics also had a significant influence on the edaphic biota. Given the essential functions it performs in contaminated soils, phytomanagement practices should aim to restore soil biodiversity. Read More

Documentary on sustainable food production

We have taken part in the recording of a documentary on sustainable food production for the Teknopolis programme of ETB. We have explained the soil health evaluation that we carry out in our lab, using the ReCROP project as an example.

Accelerating collection and use of soil health information using AI technology to support the Soil Deal for Europe and EU Soil Observatory (AI4SoilHealth; 2023-2026)

The objective of AI4SoilHealth is to co-design, create and maintain an open access European-wide digital infrastructure, compiled using state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence (AI) methods combined with new and deep soil health understanding and measures. The AI-based data infrastructure functions as a Digital Twin to the real-World biophysical system, forming a Soil Digital Twin. This can be used for assessing and continuously monitoring Soil Health metrics by land use and/or management parcel, supporting the Commission’s objective of transitioning towards healthy soils by 2030.

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Bioinocula and CROPping systems: an integrated biotechnological approach for improving crop yield, biodiversity and REsilience of Mediterranean agro-ecosystems (ReCrop; 2021-2024)

The Mediterranean economy is highly dependent on agriculture.
However, agricultural sustainability and productivity in this region are under serious threat due to climate change and depletion of water resources. This is worsened by poor management practices, such as the overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, overgrazing, and monoculture farming. ReCROP aims to redesign Mediterranean agrosystems with improved resilience capacity and higher productivity, focusing on the development of sustainable agricultural production systems through the combined use of biotechnological tools and environmentally friendly agronomic practices. This will allow farming systems to face climate change trough the improvement of below and aboveground biodiversity, fertility, and water conservation. RECROP uses the novel approach of plant-microorganism management that relies on the increase of soils functions and health by using bioinocula, amendments, cropping systems, and climate-ready crops, to increase crop yields while providing ecological services, e.g., increasing carbon sequestration, organic matter, nutrient cycling and water conservation.

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