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Austria’s “Healthy Soil for Healthy Food” unanimous winner of the Soil Award 3/04/2017

The Land and Soil Management Award recognizes the immense value of the work of land owners and land managers in mitigating soil threats. In doing so, the award sheds light on outstanding achievements, encouraging new concepts of land and soil protection and their implementation in land management, as well as enhancing awareness about the importance of land and soil functions.
Together with the food retailer SPAR and WWF Austria, Austrian farmers in the winning project "Healthy Soil for Healthy Food" are using soil conservation methods to provide healthy food to local consumers.  Under the auspices of the European Commission (DG Environment and the Joint Research Centre), in association with BOKU and Ljubljana Universities and Syngenta, the ELO awarded them the Land and Soil Management Award for their extraordinary work during the Gala Dinner following the 10th Forum for the Future of Agriculture.
The award was received by Alois Liebmann one of the farmers, Andreas Pregartner adviser, Thomas Panzl, SPAR Austria and Julia Haslinger from WWF Austria.
In order to enhance soil health, 59 Austrian farmers and their partners have built a strong alliance in the framework of this collaborative project. Together, the three stakeholders have enormous power to re-shape and influence food production and consumption patterns. More importantly, they have shown the will to do it. 
The project started in 2015, introducing soil-conservation agriculture practices on 800 hectares. In 2016 this increased to 950 and the goal is to further expand it to 1.200 hectare in 2017. So far, 59 farmers and their families are involved in the project producing mainly vegetables; cabbage, tomatoes, onions, carrots and three different kinds of salads using soil-conservation agriculture methods such as fertilization with compost rather than commercial fertilizer, minimum tillage, permanent green cover and crop rotation. 

For additional information on the Land and Soil Management Award, please consult and the press release.


Global Soil Partnership announcement - Glinka World Soil Prize: Call for nominations extended to 16th September!

The Glinka World Soil Prize honors individuals and organizations whose leadership and activities have contributed, or are still contributing to the promotion of sustainable soil management and the protection of soil resource. The award will contribute in a timely manner to raise awareness of policy makers and the general public about possible solutions to tackle acute national and local problems of soil degradation, and to encourage all stakeholders and soil practitioners to engage in field-oriented work, with direct contributions to the preservation of the environment, food security and poverty alleviation as specified in the Revised World Soil Charter.

Publication of the SCHER opinion on Cadmium in arable soils

Current EU legislation concerning fertilisers (in particular Regulation (EC) No 2003/2003) does not contain limits on the content of cadmium, although some risks relating to the presence of cadmium in the food chain have been well identified.

In 2002, the former Scientific Committee for Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and Environment (CSTEE) adopted an opinion on “The Member State Assessments of the Risk to Health and the Environment from Cadmium in Fertilizers” in 2002. As to a possible limit value for cadmium in fertilizers for the whole EU, the committee concluded that at a concentration of 20 mg cadmium/kg P2O5 in inorganic phosphate fertilisers, accumulation of cadmium is not expected in most EU soils.

In April 2014, the EU inorganic fertiliser industry notified the Commission of a report updating assessment of the effects of using inorganic phosphate fertilisers on cadmium accumulation in EU arable soils, leading the Commission to ask the Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) to assess whether the new information would warrant an update of the 2002 Opinion.

The SCHER concludes that, the newly acquired information is of sufficient scientific quality to warrant an update of the 2002 Opinion.  A revision of the forecasts estimated in 2002 will contribute to a new discussion on tolerable limit values for the pollution of fertilizers with cadmium.

You will find the opinion and the underlying report here.

Life and SoilPublication – "LIFE and Soil protection"  

With issues such as erosion, soil sealing, carbon capture and contaminated land of growing public concern and policy focus, this LIFE Focus publication takes a timely look at LIFE and Soil protection.

Despite soil as such has not been a core theme of LIFE, the program has funded many soil-related pro­jects since its launch in 1992, and there has been an increasing focus on soil protection since the publication of the Commission’s Soil Thematic Strategy in 2006. The 68 page brochure includes an overview of EU soil policy, analysis of LIFE’s contribution to its implementation and interviews that link soil science to policy-making to practical action. It also addresses in detail the impact of LIFE actions relating to all the key issues around soil sustainability, including: land take and soil sealing; soil biodiversity; carbon capture; soil monitoring; soil and water protection; sustainable agriculture; and land contamination.

The publication thus provides an opportunity to highlight and assess the LIFE programme's contribution to soil protection to date, including proposals for ways in which project outcomes may be better channelled and have an even greater impact in future. To order a printed copy please visit the ordering publications section of the LIFE website.

LIFE (“The Financial Instrument for the Environment”) is a programme launched by the European Commission and coordinated by the Environment Directorate-General. A number of LIFE publications is available here.

Science for Environment Policy In-Depth Report on 'Soil Contamination: Impacts on Human Health'

Researchers are making good progress with developing our understanding of many soil-related issues, such as soil sealing, erosion and contamination, but the impacts of soil contamination on human health are not as well documented. This In-depth Report aims to begin filling this gap in information for decision makers, with a particular focus on offering explanations of the scientific issues around how soils behave, details of common contaminants in our soils, and what we know about the potential risks to health from soil contamination.

Primarily, it focuses on soil contaminants from human activity, for example, from industrial processes, mining, household/business waste, human and animal pharmaceuticals and provides an overview of current research. It also presents case studies concerning heavy metals and synthetic organic chemicals. Biological contaminants (e.g. pathogens, such as tetanus, and parasites, such as hookworm), which are also contained in soil and which cause many well-documented impacts on human health are not covered in this report.

This Report is written and edited by the Science Communication Unit, University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol and is part a series of special reports from the "Science for Environment Policy" news alert service.

To read the full In-depth Report "Soil Contamination: Impacts on Human Health", please click here.

Funding opportunity for soil projects under LIFE+ in 2013

The seventh call for proposals under the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE+) Regulation was published in the Official Journal on 19th February 2013. Co-financing of projects is possible under three themes: Nature and Biodiversity, Environment Policy and Governance and Information and Communication.

Under the Environment Policy & Governance component and for the policy area 'Soil', the Commission invites projects with the following principal objective: to protect and ensure the sustainable use of soil by preserving soil functions, preventing threats to soil, mitigating their effects and restoring degraded soils. Additionally, soil related funding may be possible under the objective for the ‘Urban environment’: to contribute to improving the environmental performance of Europe's urban areas.

Under the Information and Communication component, the Commission invites communication actions and awareness raising campaigns to, inter alia, increase the awareness and knowledge about the importance of soil and soil biodiversity and its many ecological functions, and sustainable land use.

More information, relevant documents and the application packages are available here.

Soil Sealing Guidelines

Soil sealing – the covering of the ground by an impermeable material – is one of the main causes of soil degradation in the EU. Soil sealing often affects fertile agricultural land, puts biodiversity at risk, increases the risk of flooding and water scarcity and contributes to global warming. Guidelines on best practice to limit, mitigate or compensate soil sealing were made public by the European Commission on 12th April 2012. These guidelines collect examples of policies, legislation, funding schemes, local planning tools, information campaigns and many other best practices implemented throughout the EU. They are mainly addressed to competent authorities in Member States (at national, regional and local levels), professionals dealing with land planning and soil management, and stakeholders in general, but it may also be of interest to individual citizens. More information

Public consultation on 7th EAP

A public consultations has been launched on the 7th Environment Action Programme (7EAP), 2012-2020, which will run until 1st June 2012. Environment Action Programmes have guided the development of EU environment policy since the early seventies. During this period, environment legislation was consolidated and completed to cover almost all environmental media, with the exception of soil. Against this background, the Commission is considering how a 7th Environment Action Programme could best provide added value in the rapidly evolving environment policy context. The purpose of this consultation is to collect the views of all stakeholders, at EU and national level, and the public at large on the environment policy priorities up to 2020. Informed opinions are sought on the priority areas to be addressed and on the most effective tools for the EU to employ in addressing the challenges described in the consultation document. Comments are invited from citizens, organisations and public authorities. More information...

Public consultation on the Water Blueprint

A public consultations has been launched on policy options for the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Waters (Water Blueprint), which will run until 7th June 2012. This is an online consultation providing an opportunity for consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including the general public, on the most appropriate actions to improve water management in Europe and to safeguard our water resources. More information...