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TOPIC : European Joint Programme on agricultural soil management

Topic identifier: LC-SFS-20-2019
Publication date: 27 October 2017
Focus area: Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future (LC)

Types of action: COFUND-EJP COFUND (European Joint Programme)
Opening date:
16 October 2018
Deadline: 23 January 2019 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Good agriculture soil management[1] contributes to food security, climate change mitigation/adaptation and ecosystem services. Preserving and increasing fertility of soils, not least through their organic content and water retaining capacity, increases agricultural production. Soils and their carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus content are also important for climate change mitigation. A number of good soil management practices have been developed to deal with some of the challenges; however serious knowledge gaps exist, e.g. on the characteristics of soils in various regions of Europe, the factors influencing their fertility functions including their capacity to store carbon, depending on different climate and environment conditions. The European Union is committed to addressing climate change with ambitious targets. An integrated framework for soil research in Europe is required to overcome current fragmentation and unleash the potential of agricultural soils to contribute to climate change mitigation/adaptation, while preserving or increasing agricultural functions.


The European Joint Programme will boost soil research with main emphasis on agricultural soil management and its contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The aim is to construct a sustainable framework for an integrated community of research groups working on related aspects of agricultural soil management[2]. The activities should look at how management of agricultural soils can reduce degradation of land and soils (in particular soil erosion and loss of organic matter), preserve and increase fertility of soils and how the processes related to organic content and water retaining capacity can support mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The EJP will evaluate and foster implementation of novel technologies for soil management and carbon sequestration. The aim of the EJP is also to look for synergies between different approaches used in Europe for farm level accounting of emissions and removals from agricultural activities and particularly of carbon storage. In doing so, activities will contribute to improving inventories, measurements, reporting and accounting activities at different scales. Sustainable agricultural productivity and environmental aspects will also be targeted in connection with climate change mitigation and adaptation, so that optimisation of land management is ensured.

The European Joint Programme 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. Farmers, landowners and other stakeholders should be included in research activities as appropriate in the spirit with the multi-actor approach[3].

State-of-art technologies for mapping and soil sampling and analysis (physical, chemical and biological parameters) should be explored for wider and simple use at various levels. In return, by e.g. developing new ICT tools, this could help farmers to protect and manage soils in line with current scientific understanding of processes. The EJP should also facilitate sampling and further development of LUCAS[4] –European Soil Database as well support EU contribution to global soil mapping activities.

Participating legal entities must have research funding and/or management responsibilities in the field of agriculture soil management.

The proposal should include a five-year roadmap describing the key priorities and governance processes as well as the first annual work plan.

The acquired knowledge should support policy making in the domain of agricultural soil management and related areas, such as agriculture, climate and environment, and when feasible and appropriate knowledge exchange between science and practice for better agricultural soil management by farmers should be envisaged.

The activities will need to be coordinated as appropriate with other international soil related activities under the United Nations umbrella among them the Global Soil Partnership and more particularly with European Soil Partnership node; with the Global Research Alliance on agricultural greenhouse gases; Horizon 2020 project CIRCASA[5]; 4‰ Initiative: soils for food security and climate; Joint Programming Initiatives (FACCE, CLIMATE); the Belmont Forum and soil activities coordinated by the European Commission Joint Research Centre [6] when relevant and appropriate. The work of the EJP will also support a number of policies: the Common Agricultural Policy, Climate Change related policy and relevant environmental policies, in particular the implementation of the EU Soil Thematic Strategy[7].

Financial support provided by the participants to third parties is one of the aims of this action and, in order to achieve the objectives of the action, the 60 000 EUR threshold provided for in Article 137(1)(c) of the Financial Regulation N°966/2012 and Article 210(a) of the Rules of Application Regulation N°1268/2012 can be exceeded.

Considering the budget available, the scope covered and the potential entities for the EJP, the Commission considers that an EU contribution to a maximum 50% of the total eligible costs of the action or up to 40 million EUR would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately.

Expected Impact:

The project will lead to significant long term alignment and implementation of soil-related research strategies and activities at national and EU level by:

  • fostering understanding of soil management and its influence on climate mitigation and adaptation, sustainable agricultural production and environment;
  • understanding how soil carbon sequestration can contribute to climate change mitigation at regional level including accounting for carbon;
  • strengthening scientific capacities and cooperation across Europe including training of young soil scientists;
  • Supporting harmonised European soil information, including for international reporting;
  • fostering the uptake of soil management practices which are conducive to climate change adaptation and mitigation;
  • developing region-specific fertilisation practices considering the local soil, water and pedo-climatic conditions;

In the long term, the programme will strengthen the role of the farming sector as a steward of land and soil resources. It will increase its capacity to adapt to climate change and contribute to mitigation and carbon sequestration.

[1]Soil management includes: soil conservation, soil fertility and soil biodiversity.

[2]Agro-forestry is included in the topic.

[3]See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction of this Work Programme part.

[4]Land use/cover area frame statistical survey, abbreviated as LUCAS, is a European field survey program funded and executed by Eurostat

[5]Project selected under SFS-50-2017 topic

[6]European Soil Data Centre; EIONET - European Environment Information and Observation Network – soil network


Topic conditions and documents

1. Eligible countries: described in Annex A of the Work Programme.
A number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects. See the information in the Online Manual.


2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in Annex B and Annex C of the Work Programme.


Proposal page limits and layout: please refer to Part B of the proposal template in the submission system below.


3. Evaluation:

  • Evaluation criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex H of the Work Programme.
  • Submission and evaluation processes are described in the Online Manual.

4. Indicative time for evaluation and grant agreements:

Information on the outcome of evaluation (single-stage call): maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

European Joint Programme (EJP):

Specific provisions and funding rates
Standard proposal template
Standard evaluation form
MGA EJP Cofund – Multi-Beneficiary
Annotated Grant Agreement

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
Classified information
Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply

Members of consortium are required to conclude a consortium agreement, in principle prior to the signature of the grant agreement.

8. Additional documents:

1. Introduction WP 2018-20
9. Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy WP 2018-20
18. Dissemination, Exploitation and Evaluation WP 2018-20

General annexes to the Work Programme 2018-2020

Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme

7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions.

Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

Open access to research data
The Open Research Data Pilot has been extended to cover all Horizon 2020 topics for which the submission is opened on 26 July 2016 or later. Projects funded under this topic will therefore by default provide open access to the research data they generate, except if they decide to opt-out under the conditions described in Annex L of the Work Programme. Projects can opt-out at any stage, that is both before and after the grant signature.

Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they plan to open or share their data, and will not be penalised for opting out.

Open research data sharing applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan.

Projects need to create a Data Management Plan (DMP), except if they opt-out of making their research data open access. A first version of the DMP must be provided as an early deliverable within six months of the project and should be updated during the project as appropriate. The Commission already provides guidance documents, including a template for DMPs. See the Online Manual.

Eligibility of costs: costs related to data management and data sharing are eligible for reimbursement during the project duration.

The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.


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Type of Action COFUND (European Joint Programme) [COFUND-EJP]
Topic European Joint Programme on agricultural soil management - LC-SFS-20-2019
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