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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.
Currently in Europe we have a vast percentage of soils that are considered unhealthy
The goal is to increase the share of healthy or significantly improved soils by 2030

Working across Scales and Purposes

BENCHMARKS proposes the co-development within 24 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.

Integrated Soil Health Monitoring Framework

The Benchmarks framework will acomodate the needs of the different scales (from local to European level) by guiding users through the following steps for the selection of monitoring metrics and indicator measurements.

This framework will be developed and tested with stakeholders in the living labs. The user will be able to select soil functions, land uses, pedoclimatic conditions, analysis scale or indicator measurements (sample, stats and space). It will also play a crucial role in the monitoring, reporting and verification needs of the users at all relevant scales.

The Integrated Soil Health Monitoring Framework will have three functions which support the quantification of the potential and state of soil health for 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.

Monitoring Metrics


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


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


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

Indicator Measurements


Field and lab based measurement.


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


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

Vision and definition 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 endeavor, which requires transformative changes in practices by all sectors of society, across all types of land uses and scales in a joined-up manner.

Soils are healthy and resilient, which requires decisive change. Protection, sustainable use and restoration of soil should be the norm. Our contribution is framed in climate neutrality, clean circular economy and human health protection; tackling biodiversity loss, desertification and land degradation.