“Be your own soil expert: opening soil research up to everyone"
There is a huge amount of soils' research happening today, and this research is shaping how soils are governed and managed around the world. Improving soils requires ongoing learning about how to transform land uses in specific places so that both soils and people who live on them can benefit. This vast task cannot depend on top-down models of science-driven policy alone. Everyone can become an expert in soil improvement.
In this session, we ask: How can we open soil research up, and support everyone to become experts in their own soils? What is the value of ‘democratising’ soil research? What may soil research which is open to everyone or led by non-experts look like in practice? What is the role of policy and of science in supporting this direction, and what are the barriers in our way?
Our speakers were:
Teresa Pinto Correia
Teresa Pinto Correia is a Professor at the University of Évora and director of the newly created MED Research Unit - Mediterranean Institute for Agriculture, Environment and Development. She is the deputy chair of the Mission Board on Soil Health and Food of the Horizon Europe, the next Framework Program (2021-2027).
You can learn more about Teresa's work here.
Lola is an independent researcher and soil health consultant associate with the Agroecology Lab of the Brussels Bioengineering School. Her PhD thesis explored soil health and farmers' knowledge through a collaborative method. She has been exploring collaborative soil research since then.
You can learn more about Lola's work here.
Jackie Stroud (@wormscience) has over 10 years soil science experience. After working with farmers to reduce the environmental impacts of their no-tillage systems in Australia, she returned to the UK where farmer-science partnerships are uncommon. She established a ‘Ploughing on regardless?’ research programme, exploring ways to support farmers soil management experiments. This included community aggregate stability surveys and designing earthworm assessments together facilitated using social media.
You can learn more about Jackie's work here.
As background to the debate you may want to have a look at these online resources:
Caring for Soil is Caring for Life, the mission statement of the Horizon Europe Mission for Soil Health and Food https://ec.europa.eu/info/publications/caring-soil-caring-life_en
a great talk on participatory earthworm research by Jackie Stroud https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh7aqhls5Dw
A toolkit for the exploration of living soils, co-developed by Lola Richelle https://goodfood.brussels/fr/contributions/guide-dobservation-et-pistes-daction-pour-des-sols-vivants-en-maraichage