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Working across Scales and Purposes

BENCHMARKS proposes the co-development within 29 European case studies of a multi-scale and multi-user focused monitoring framework that is transparent, harmonised and cost-effective. Underpinned by the best scientific knowledge and technologies this framework provides a clear soil health index for benchmarking, using indicators that are pertinent to the objective of assessment, applicable to the land use and logistically feasible.

Building a European Network on Soil Research

BENCHMARKS aims to build a European network to advance soil research, monitor soil health and advocate for sustainable land use. To achieve these goals, BENCHMARKS collaborates with stakeholders in 24 European case studies to co-develop and evaluate a multi-scale and multi-user focused monitoring framework that is transparent, harmonised and cost-effective.

The Soil Health and Food (SH&F) mission board has set the goal to have 75% of European soils healthy or significantly improved by 2030. This is in line with other important European initiatives such as the Green Deal and EU Farm-to-Fork Strategy. Benchmarks aims to validate and further develop indicators for soil health and functions.
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Currently in Europe we have a vast percentage of soils that are considered unhealthy
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The goal is to increase the share of healthy or significantly improved soils by 2030
The Soil Health and Food (SH&F) mission board has set the goal to have 75% of European soils healthy or significantly improved by 2030. This is in line with other important European initiatives such as the Green Deal and EU Farm-to-Fork Strategy. Soil Health Benchmarks aims to validate and further develop indicators for soil health and functions.
0%
Currently in Europe we have a vast percentage of soils that are considered unhealthy
0%
The goal is to increase the share of healthy or significantly improved soils by 2030

Co-creating a Soil Health Monitoring Framework

The BENCHMARKS framework aims to accommodate the diverse needs of different scales, ranging from local to European levels, by providing guidance throughout the soil health monitoring process.

This framework is co-developed and tested in collaboration with stakeholders in various case studies. Users have the flexibility to select soil functions, land uses, pedoclimatic conditions, analysis scale, and indicator measurements (sample, statistics, and spatial data). Furthermore, the framework plays a crucial role in meeting the monitoring, reporting, and verification requirements of users across all relevant scales.

The Integrated Soil Health Monitoring Framework serves three key functions to facilitate the quantification of soil health potential and status within a given context:

Indicator selection Based on objective, context and practices.
Soil health assessment Calculates the soil health index based on indicator measurements.
Management optimisation Provides recommendations on which practices can be applied to further optimise soil health for a given site.

Soil Health Monitoring Metrics

Practice

Defines which management practices can be implemented to respond to the defined objectives.

Result

Monitor and report changes in the short term resulting from the deployment of new practices / technologies

Outcome

Useful to monitor and report the extent to which the intervention / initiative has delivered on its goal.

Soil Health Indicator Measurements

Sample

Field and lab-based measurement.

Stats

Existing data on soils, management practices, socioeconomic factors & model derived measurements.

Space

Digital technologies, e.g. remote sensing, satellite technology, lidar, drones.

Monitoring Soil Health

The innovative approach of Benchmarks aims to:

  • Provide a clear, easy-to-use tool for evaluating soil health, that is transparent, harmonized, and cost-effective.
  • Define appropriate indicators that are relevant to the assessment of soil health for a range of land uses and climatic zones across Europe.
  • Develop a soil health dashboard appropriate for use at a range of scales (field to European) for agricultural, forestry, and urban settings.
  • Contribute to improving existing European policies and regulations related to soil health.

Monitoring Metrics

Practice

Defines which management practices can be implemented to respond to the defined objectives.

Result

Monitor and report changes in the short term resulting from the deployment of new practices / technologies

Outcome

Useful to monitor and report the extent to which the intervention / initiative has delivered on its goal.

Indicator Measurements

Sample

Field and lab-based measurement.

Stats

Existing data on soils, management practices, socioeconomic factors & model derived measurements.

Space

Digital technologies, e.g. remote sensing, satellite technology, lidar, drones.

Vision for a Healthy Soil

Soil health means good chemical, biological and physical condition and provision of as many ecosystem services as possible. Maintaining and restoring soil health is a major and long-term endeavour, which requires transformative changes in practices by all sectors of society, across all types of land uses and scales in a joined-up manner.

In 2050 the soils must be healthy and resistant, but this requires a decisive change. For this, the protection, sustainable use and restoration of the soil should be the norm. In this sense, the contribution of BENCHMARKS is framed within climate neutrality, clean circular economy and human health protection; tackling biodiversity loss, desertification and land degradation.

Vision for a Healthy Soil

In 2050 the soils must be healthy and resistant, but this requires a decisive change. For this, the protection, sustainable use and restoration of the soil should be the norm. In this sense, the contribution of BENCHMARKS is framed within climate neutrality, clean circular economy and human health protection; tackling biodiversity loss, desertification and land degradation.

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