Discovering the subsoil

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Open Call Reference: HORIZON-MISS-2023-SOIL-01-01

Subsoil refers to the horizons immediately below the topsoil. In the past, this layer has often been neglected as most land management practices (e.g. tillage, cover crops) are focused on the topsoil. The same goes for the availability of spatial datasets on soils at both national and EU-scale. However, the subsoil can have a large impact on a soil’s potential productivity and supply of ecosystem services. It is estimated for example that plants extract between 10 and 80% of their nutrient and water requirements from the subsoil. Also, subsoils play a key role in the carbon cycle: globally, subsoils store two times more soil organic carbon than the uppermost 30 cm.

-Identify drivers and pressures on the subsoil that impair a range of soil functions and ecosystem services as well as on subsoil degradation and identify indicators to assess changes in soil ecosystem functioning
-Develop tools and methods for risk assessment as regards subsoil degradation
-Identify existing as well as develop and test sustainable management practices to improve subsoil conditions (e.g. water retention, nutrient provision, habitat for soil biodiversity, carbon storage) and minimise soil disturbances
-Establish robust methods to spatially assess and monitor the state of subsoils and improve data collection. The long-term storage and access to subsoil data should be done in close collaboration with the European Soil Observatory (EUSO)

-Improved access to data and knowledge on the spatial variations in the chemical, physical and biological conditions and dynamics in subsoils for land managers and public authorities to support the development of sustainable management practices and financial and policy incentives
-Enhanced access and deployment of sustainable management practices to improve the protection, sustainable management and restoration of subsoil in agricultural and forest soils and to increase relevant soil-dependent ecosystem services such as the provision of food and fibre or the enhancement of soil biodiversity
-Improved understanding of the role of subsoil in climate change adaptation and mitigation, e.g. regarding carbon and water storage

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