The specific objectives of SoildiverAgro are:
To identify the main agricultural challenges threatening soil biodiversity for key European crops through strong involvement of stakeholders and end-users to ensure a realistic identification of farmers` and social challenges (WP2).
To expand the knowledge about the soil micro- and macro-organisms` genetic and functional diversity and their dynamics in representative European croplands under both different production systems (conventional and organic) and management practices across 9 European pedoclimatic regions (86% EU-28 territory), and to assess the relationships among soil biodiversity, agricultural production, soil characteristics, climatic conditions and cropping systems (WP3).
To contribute to the ongoing development of protocols to assess, evaluate, monitor and operationally define soil genetic and functional biodiversity (micro- and macro-organisms) (WP4).
To identify key target micro- and macro-organisms and to assess the interactions between soil organisms genetic and functional diversity and i) plant health, ii) plant growth and development, iii) crop yield and quality, iv) reduction of external inputs (water, pesticides, fertilizers, fuel…), and v) the delivery of other ecosystem services (soil fertility, prevention of soil pollution, reduction of soil-borne pests, reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and enhanced C sequestration) (WP3, WP5).
To propose crop management practices and cropping systems that contribute to enhance soil biodiversity, improve crop production and quality, reduce the use of external inputs and foster the delivery of other ecosystem services in agroecosystems of different pedoclimatic region in EU (WP5).
To assess the environmental, economic and social costs and benefits of proposed management practices and cropping systems, taking into account end-users` needs and farms` profitability (WP6), to demonstrate that the proposed crop management practices and cropping systems contribute to reduce production costs and obtain high quality products with higher economic added value. This is achieved by proper management of soil biodiversity due to more resilient and healthy crops with decreasing use of external inputs.
To define operational biodiversity targets (functional groups, density, activity, richness and evenness of operational functional or taxonomic groups/species, and abundance of beneficial organisms or pathogens) from the field to regional levels, develop best agricultural practices guidelines, tools and recommendations for updating the agricultural policies in EU based in the enhancement of soil biodiversity (WP7).
To initialize a draft change in the cropping systems across Europe with products from high soil biodiversity croplands, by increasing acceptance, mutual learning and incorporating local knowledge through the establishment of effective processes of knowledge transfer (communication, dissemination and exploitation strategy) and engaging with all stakeholders in the value chain (researchers, policy makers, farmers, advisors, suppliers and agroindustry) following a multi-actor approach (WP8).