Project Newsletter #3


Welcome back to our third newsletter and a warm welcome to the new subscribers!

We hope you have enjoyed your summer break and safely returned with your “batteries” fully charged!

In this issue of SIEUSOIL newsletter we present some fascinating facts and fun figures for soil. We proudly introduce you to our dynamic Advisory Board and share views on soil security issues.

Also, find out our latest news in the “In case you missed” section and do not miss out on the “Upcoming Events”.

Once again, we remind you to stay tuned with our project website and follow us on social media to stay updated on project news and progress.

Facts & Figures

Fascinating soil facts…

There are more soil microorganisms in a teaspoon of healthy soil than there are people on the earth! 
Millions of species and billions of organisms—bacteria, algae, microscopic insects, earthworms, beetles, ants, mites, fungi and more—represent the greatest concentration of biomass anywhere on the planet! Microbes, which make up only one half of one percent of the total soil mass, are the yeasts, algae, protozoa, bacteria, nematodes, and fungi that process organic matter into rich, dark, stable humus in the soil (SOURCE: Rainforest Alliance).

Soil can die!
As soil is alive, soil can also die. The short-term gains of conventional agricultural practices—like excessive tilling and application of chemical pesticides and fertilizers—eventually give way to reveal the long-term damage they do to soil ecosystems (SOURCE: Rainforest Alliance).

Soil stores water!
A one percent increase in organic matter in the top six inches of soil would hold approximately 27,000 gallons of additional water per acre (SOURCE: SOIL SOLUTIONS).

Soil stores vast quantities of carbon!
It is estimated  that more carbon resides in soil than in the atmosphere and all plant life combined; there are 2,500 billion tons of carbon in soil, compared with 800 billion tons in the atmosphere and 560 billion tons in plant and animal life (SOURCE: Yale Environment 360).

Fun facts about dirt




(SOURCE: Audubon magazine)

Advisory Board presentation

We are proud to have on our team two dynamic experts that have joined so far, our advisory board, to guide us through the progress of the project and discuss challenges and opportunities arising for intelligent soil and land management systems in EU and China. The Advisory Board will be further built on, by multidisciplinary individuals of high expertise and scientific background, as the project progresses.

Ciro Gardi

Ciro Gardi is currently working in the Plant Health team of the European Food Safety Authority. An agronomist, soil scientist/ecologist, with PhD in crop science, he has a deep knowledge of agricultural systems and of the interactions between land management, soil quality and ecosystem service provision. He is actively involved on all the aspects related to soil degradation, from research to policy support and awareness raising. He taught soil science at University of Parma and in international masters and courses. His main research activities are on the relationships between land use, agronomic management and soil quality, with particular emphasis on soil degradation processes, and their relationships with soil organic matter and soil biodiversity. He is experienced in GIS, remote sensing and soil survey research, which he has carried out in Italy and abroad. He has been a consultant and served as an independent expert for the European Commission, World Bank, OECD and several NGOs and he is currently member of the Global Soil Partnership (FAO).

Luca Montanarella

Luca Montanarella has been working since 1992 in the European Commission. He has been leading the Soil Data and Information Systems activities of the Joint Research Centre in support to the EU Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection and numerous other soil related policies. Dr Montanarella is responsible of the European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC), the European Soil Information System (EUSIS) and the European Soil Bureau Network (ESBN) and in 2011 he was responsible at FAO to support the establishment of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP). He is the Chair of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) and Chair of the International Network of Soil Information Institutions (INSII). In 2016-18 he Co-Chaired the IPBES Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment. He has had more than 300 publications, books and reports and numerous awards and memberships.

Soil security in Sustainable Development

A number of large existential environmental challenges have been recognized for the sustainable development of humanity and planet Earth. These are Food Security, Water Security, Energy Security, Climate Change Abatement, Biodiversity Protection and Ecosystem Service Delivery. They all have similar characteristics; namely, they are global, they are complex and difficult to resolve, and they are inter-related. They all are addressed using a combination of dimensions with a focus on servicing mankind. When one analyses these environmental challenges, it is easily identified that soil has an integral part to play in all of them.

The world’s soils are critical to the well-being of human societies because they deliver many ecosystem services  that sustain life. Soils act as a medium for plant growth, a filter for water, and a major global sink of carbon, and are home to a vast diversity of organisms that drive the biogeochemical processes on which the functioning of the Earth depends. [1] Soil security, an overarching concept of soil motivated by sustainable development, can be defined as being concerned with the maintenance and improvement of the world’s soil resource to produce food, fibre and freshwater, contribute to energy and climate sustainability, and maintain the biodiversity and the overall protection of the ecosystem..

Soil Quality and Soil Health are similar concepts to soil security. The notion of ‘Soil Quality’ is defined in terms of the chemical, physical and biological aspects of soil and a comprehensive set of indicators has been identified to assess the physical, chemical and biological properties that affect soil quality ‘Soil Health’, defined largely in biological terms and it is reflected by a set of biological indicators. Both concepts of quality and health are focused on assessing the soil condition, but there is no explicit statement relating them to soil functions.[2]

The European Union Soil Protection Strategy is nonetheless based on soil function and the threats to soil. The concept of soil security concept may provide a more integrative framework to this direction due to its multi-dimensional nature. It is based on the five Cs (capability, condition, capital, connectivity  and codification), whilst it also encompasses the social, economic and biophysical notions.






“What can this soil do?”

“Can the soil continue to do this?”

“What value does the soil provide?”

“Who cares about soil?”

“What regulations are needed to protect soil? [3]

If soil security was considered as the function of the soil to produce food and other biomass it could be related to soil capability and soil condition, while soil capital would relate to storing, filtering and transformation and  the provision for a habitat and gene pool. The cultural environment for mankind  is related to soil connectivity and valued through the soil capital, where acting as a carbon pool is related to soil condition and capital, and being an archive for archeological heritage is covered by soil condition and its connectivity.

The concepts of soil quality, health and protection are thus directly and implicitly related to the concept of soil security and its dimensions. The soil security concept is adding on the dimensions to frame the value of soil and how people interact with it. The soil security concept, can provide a clear guideline for soil science research, defining soil functions contributing to interdisciplinary ecosystem services that, in turn, can define measures to reach SDGs. Soil security also requires a value to be placed on soil, and this value is aligned with the need for policy to aid in securing soil by encouraging sound soil management and protection. [4]

[2] Alex McBratney, Damien J. Field, Andrea Koch (2013) The dimensions of soil security
[4] Soil Security in Sustainable Development, Johan Bouma, 2019

In case you missed

The first scientific paper with SIEUSOIL acknowledgement has been published

Α research team led by the University of Pannonia (Hungary) has published the scientific paper: “Farming by soil in Europe: status and outlook of cropping systems under different pedoclimatic conditions” in the PeerJ – the Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences, under the lead authorship of Gergely Tóth, together with Tamás Kismányoky, Piroska Kassai, Tamás Hermann (Georgikon Faculty, University of Pannonia), Oihane Fernandez-Ugalde (Directorate D- Sustainable Resources, Joint Research Centre, Italy) and Brigitta Szabó (Institute for Soil Sciences and Agricultural Chemistry, Centre for Agricultural Research, Hungary).”

The article tackles with a comprehensive assessment of cropping in Europe from the viewpoint of the soil variability and its relationship to cropping patterns. The research team studied the cropping patterns in different soils of European climate zones with regards to the shares of their crop types in a comparative manner. The study highlights the main features of farming by soil in Europe. Farming by soil in this context means the consideration of soil characteristics when selecting crop types and cropping patterns.

Results suggest that farmers in general, consciously take pedoclimatic condition of farming into account when selecting their cropping patterns. Findings reveal, that within distinct climatic zones, soil conditions are decisive for selecting crops, and this selection follows the spatial pattern of soil distribution. On the other hand, while land users need to optimize their cropping systems for the prevailing ecological conditions, economic motivations may alter the cropping practice.

The first SIEUSOIL podcast is live…

Spend a few minutes to listen to and learn about land degradation,

the major threats of soil fertility and what the SIEUSOIL project aspires to bring to the table.

Check it out here.

Check out our Latest Videos…


Sensors in the farming industry

A healthy soil is a living soil!

To watch all SIEUSOIL videos visit our YouTube channel.

Our website has turned multilingual…

The SIEUSOIL website has been upgraded and is now live in four different languages.

Click the flags below to visit the Spanish, Czech and Greek versions and keep up to date with our project.


What we are reading

The relevance of sustainable soil management within the European Green Deal

The new European Green Deal has the ambition to make the European Union the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The European Commission presented an ambitious package of measures within the Biodiversity Strategy 2030, the Farm to Fork and the European Climate Law including actions to protect our soils.

The Farm to Fork strategy addresses soil pollution with 50 % reduction in use of chemical pesticides by 2030 and aims 20 % reduction in fertilizer use plus a decrease of nutrient losses by at least 50%.

The Biodiversity Strategy has the ambition to set a minimum of 30 % of the EU’s land area as protected areas, limit urban sprawl, reduce the pesticides risk, bring back at least 10 % of agricultural area under high-diversity landscape features, put forward the 25 % of the EU’s agricultural land as organically farmed, progress in the remediation of contaminated sites, reduce land degradation and plant more than three billion new trees.

The maintenance of wetlands and the enhancement of soil organic carbon are also addressed in the European Climate Law. The new EU Soil Observatory will be collecting policy relevant data and developing indicators for the regular assessment and progress towards the ambitious targets of the Green Deal.

Upcoming events

ESA EO Φ-WEEK 2020 Digital Twin Earth Virtual Event

28 September – 2 October 2020

Φ-week is the annual Earth Observation event organised by ESA-EOP. It focuses on innovation in Earth Observation,
and showcases the latest achievements in Earth Observation science, technology and applications.

For more info visit their website.

The Twelfth International Conference on Advanced Geographic Information Systems, Applications, and Services

21 – 25 Νovember 2020

GEO Processing 2020 is orgranised along with other relevant events as part of DigitalWorld 2020 Congress. GEOProcessing 2020 conference will host amongst others, tracks on trends on Big Geo-Data and Urban-Geo, assessment of Spatial Data Quality, Geo-modeling, Earth Geo-observation and Geo-sensing.

For more info visit their website.


14 – 19 September 2020

 The Conference will be held at the Department of Soil Science and Soil Ecology of Tomsk State University, in connection with the 90th anniversary of the Soil Science and Soil Ecology Department of Tomsk State University, Russia.

For more info click here.

other events

4th GLOSOLAN online meeting

20 – 23 October 2020


The International Conference- Exhibition Polluted sites and Brownfields – Rational management of resources: from characterization to valorization

3 – 5 November 2020


The 14th International Conference on Soil Health in Agroecosystems and Agricultural Soils

17 – 18 November 2020


4th Annual Congress on Soil, Plant and Water Sciences

23 – 24 November 2020


Join us

The SIEUSOIL consortium is formed by a multi-disciplinary international team of experts from 23 institutions in Europe and China, specializing on conservation agriculture, soil science, environmental engineering, data and process modelling, LCA, semantics-based data harmonization, remote sensing, IoT, sensors and data fusion, DSS, machine learning and deep learning. Our team will be more than happy to answer to your questions or provide more info on the project.

Project Coordinator: Professor Dimitrios Moshou