LIFE HelpSoil - Helping enhanced soil functions and adaptation to climate change by sustainable conservation agriculture techniques

LIFE12 ENV/IT/000578

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Contact details:

Contact person: Luca ZUCCHELLI
Tel: +39 (0)267654599
Fax: +39 (0)267652576
Email: luca_zucchelli@regione.lombardia.it

Project description:


In the river Po plain, the organic carbon stock stored in soils varies from 34-60 tonnes per hectare (t/ha). The potential for further uptake if soils are managed appropriately is estimated to be at least 12.8 t/ha of CO2 equivalent. Furthermore, increasing the organic content of soil improves the physical and chemical qualities of soils, leading to enhanced fertility and better absorption of nutrients. This helps ensure that crops can resist environmental stresses, reduces erosion and soil susceptibility to compaction, improves the ability of soils to act as a filter and buffer against pollutants, and boosts soil biodiversity. Better soil management can therefore contribute significantly to increasing the resilience of terrestrial ecosystems in the face of climate change.


The HelpSoil project will test and demonstrate innovative solutions and soil management practices to improve soil quality, and to make agricultural systems more resilient against climate change. The project will cover the whole Po plain (an area of some 46 000 km2) and the Alpine and Apennine foot-hills.

Specific project objectives include:

  • Implementing practices to improve the ecological functions of soil - organic carbon sequestration, soil fertility and biodiversity, protection against erosion - in a number of farms, with the goal of increasing agricultural sustainability and competitiveness;
  • Integrating conservation practices and innovative techniques in order to Increase the efficiency of irrigation; improve the efficiency of fertilisers, in particular livestock manure; and limit the use of pesticides.
  • The project will also develop indicators of soil ecosystem functions and new techniques to assess the environmental benefits of the practices tested by the project.

    Expected results: It is expected that the introduction of farm management practices based on the principles of conservation agriculture will achieve the following results:

  • An increase in the organic carbon content of soil of 0.2-0.7 t/ha/yr;
  • Enhancement of the biological fertility of soil;
  • Less soil erosion;
  • A reduction in greenhouse gases and ammonia emissions;
  • More efficient use of irrigation water and fertilisers;
  • Sustainable use of pesticides;
  • Reduction by 60-70% of fossil fuel consumption for soil works;
  • Enhanced adaptation to climate change of agricultural systems;
  • Greater eco-efficiency and competitiveness of agricultural systems; and
  • Greater stability of crop yields, despite increased climatic variability.
In addition, the project will also draft technical guidelines based on its results and adapted to different climatic conditions and cropping systems.



Environmental issues addressed:


Industry-Production - Agriculture - Forestry
Climate change Adaptation - Sectoral adaptation (industry-services)


agricultural method‚  soil erosion‚  preventive measure

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Regione Lombardia - DG Agricoltura
Type of organisation Regional authority
Description The Lombardy Region General Directorate for Agriculture deals with rural development issues, agricultural research and the general management of the agri-food sector. It promotes innovative agricultural techniques, which can contribute to the reduction of air pollutants and other environmental impacts.
Partners Veneto Agricoltura, Italy Centro Ricerche Produzioni Animali-CRPA S.p.A., Italy ERSAF, Italy Regione Emilia Romagna-DG Agricoltura, Economia Ittica, Attività Faunistico-Venatorie, Italy Regione Autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia–Direzione centrale risorse rurali, agroalimentari e forestali, Italy Regione Piemonte-DG Agricoltura, Italy Regione del Veneto-Direzione Agroambiente


Project reference LIFE12 ENV/IT/000578
Duration 01-JUL-2013 to 30-JUN -2017
Total budget 2,941,515.00 €
EU contribution 1,308,381.00 €
Project location Piemonte(Italia) Valle d'Aosta(Italia) Liguria(Italia) Lombardia(Italia) Trentino-Alto Adige(Italia) Veneto(Italia) Friuli-Venezia Giulia(Italia) Emilia-Romagna(Italia) Toscana(Italia) Umbria(Italia) Marche(Italia) Lazio(Italia) Campania(Italia) Abruzzo(Italia) Molise(Italia) Puglia(Italia) Basilicata(Italia) Calabria(Italia) Sicilia(Italia) Sardegna(Italia)


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Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version