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European joint program for sustainable soil management

Intensive arable agriculture with large fields – are they sustainable and climate smart?
© Thünen-Institut/Thomas Hövelmann
Intensive arable agriculture with large fields – are they sustainable and climate smart?

EJP SOIL - Towards climate-smart sustainable management of agricultural soils

The EJP SOIL objectives are to develop knowledge, tools and an integrated research community to foster climate-smart sustainable soil management. Due to an European network of partners synergies can be used to advance knowledge and knowledge transfer.

Background and Objective

The overall goal of the EJP SOIL is to build a sustainable European integrated research system on agricultural soils and develop and deploy a reference framework on climate-smart sustainable agricultural soil management. This will create the enabling environment that will maximise the contribution of agricultural soil to key societal challenges such as food and water security, sustainable agricultural production, climate change
adaptation and mitigation; ecosystem services delivery, biodiversity preservation and human health.


The European Joint Programme SOIL will include joint programming and execution of research and other joint
integrative activities such as education and training (e.g. short-term missions, workshops), knowledge management, access to experimental facilities and databases, including also harmonisation, standardisation of soil data. The Thünen Institute plays the central role for Germany as a member of EJP soil and is working on various sub-projects within EJP SOIL.

Sub-project CarboSeq:

Carbon sequestration in soils is a natural process that must be actively promoted in order to reduce the effects of climate change on soil quality and thus enabling a more climate-friendly and sustainable soil management. To promote this process in a targeted manner, a comprehensive assessment of the additional quantity of organic carbon that can be stored in the soil with the help of agrcultural management options. This information is currently lacking for European soils and therefore the aim of CarboSeq is to estimate a realizable additional carbon storage potential across Europe, taking into account technical and economic restrictions.

More on this topic here.


Sub-project MaxRoot-C:

To combat climate change it is indispensable to reduce CO2 emissions from the agricultural sector and to bind carbon in the soil compensating for those emissions. This requires a transformation towards cropping systems which are equally profitable but sequester more carbon as the current systems. The most viable yet neglected option is through increased and deeper roots of main and cover crops. The project MaxRoot-C will pioneer assessment methods closing the existing knowledge gaps by providing robust data on root C inputs of main crop varieties and different cover crops across Europe, to determine if and how genotype selection is a useful tool to increase long-term soil carbon stocks and quantify the C sequestering potential therein. It will provide policy relevant data contributing to the development of future carbon sequestration methods of agricultural soils by improved variety selection on which to base future common agricultural policy.

More on this topic here.


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Involved external Thünen-Partners

  • Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement (INRAE)
    (Paris, Toulouse, Montpellier, Avignon, Ivry-sur-Seine, Clermont-Ferrand, Rennes, Thiverval-Grignon, Dijon, Orleans, Bordeaux, Frankreich)

Funding Body

  • European Union (EU)
    (international, öffentlich)
  • Federal Ministry of Food und Agriculture (BMEL)
    (national, öffentlich)


2.2020 - 1.2025

More Information

Project funding number: 862695
Funding program: EU – Horizon 2020 – Societal Challenge "Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials"
Project status: ongoing


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    Seitz D, Fischer LM, Dechow R, Wiesmeier M, Don A (2022) The potential of cover crops to increase soil organic carbon storage in German croplands. Plant Soil:in Press, DOI:10.1007/s11104-022-05438-w

  2. 1

    Rodrigues L, Hardy B, Huyghebeart B, Fohrafellner J, Fornara DA, Barancikova G, Barcena TG, De Boever M, Di Bene C, Feiziene D, Kätterer T, Laszlo P, O’Sullivan L, Seitz D, Leifeld J (2021) Achievable agricultural soil carbon sequestration across Europe from country-specific estimates. Global Change Biol 27(24):6363-6380, DOI:10.1111/gcb.15897

  3. 2

    Schneider F, Poeplau C, Don A (2021) Predicting ecosystem responses by data-driven reciprocal modelling. Global Change Biol 27(21):5670-5679, DOI:10.1111/gcb.15817

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