2023 Conference Berlin

15 – 17 May 2023 | Berlin | Germany

Soil as sustainable resource

Bringing together the wide range of expertise required to direct soil management towards sustainable soil functioning


1. Impact of agriculture and cropping systems on soil functionsConvenersHans-Jörg Vogel,  Rita Grosch, Traud Winkelmann, Ralf Kiese , Sandra Spielvogel & Katharina HelmingKeynote SpeakerRachel Creamer | Wageningen University & ResearchSoils provide many essential functions which are indispensable for terrestrial ecosystems. In addition to soil fertility and the production of biomass, these functions include the recycling of nutrients, storing of carbon to mitigate global warming, degrading of pollutants for clean groundwater and infiltration and storing of water to reduce droughts and to prevent surface runoff, erosion and flooding. Agricultural management practices affect all soil functions and a better understanding of this impact is required. A major challenge in agriculture and horticulture is to maintain the productivity of soils without compromising all other soil functions.In this session, we would like to discuss experimental studies on the impact of various agricultural and horticultural management strategies on productivity and one or more of the other soil functions. This includes a discussion of our current understanding of the soil processes and their interactions that are responsible for this impact. Moreover, we invite contributions on how this impact can be quantified and how this might be addressed in a socioeconomic context of farm management. Synergies and trade-offs with ecosystem services and resource use efficiency targets will also be addressed. 2. Carbon and nutrient cycling in soils: Processes and interactions in a changing worldConvenersNicolas Brüggemann &  Michaela DippoldKeynote SpeakerJohannes Lehmann | Cornell University: "Circular Bionutrient Economy: biochar-based fertilizer for nutrient recycling"Carbon and nutrient cycling in soils are tightly interwoven and interact in multiple ways via physical, chemical, and biological processes that occur simultaneously in the soil, some of which are cooperative, but others are competitive. The interactions between plants, soil, and microorganisms are among the most important processes that determine soil carbon and nutrient dynamics. However, a change in soil properties, whether in carbon content due to addition or removal of organic matter, nutrient content due to fertilizer addition, water content due to drought or flooding, or temperature due to heat waves, has major implications for carbon and nutrient cycling and their interactions. Understanding these interactions, as well as their effects on carbon dynamics and soil fertility, is key to optimizing nutrient use efficiency and carbon storage in soils of a changing world while minimizing the environmental impacts of land use and management and maintaining soil fertility. We invite contributions to this session on any relevant research progresses on the above topics. 3. Soil biomes and multifunctionality of soilsConvenersMichael Schloter, Doreen Babin, Barbara Reinhold-Hurek, Nico Jehmlich & Sylvia SchnellKeynote SpeakerNaoise Nunan | Sorbonne University, ParisSoils provide several important Ecosystem Services (ES) such as food and energy provision or water storage and purification. The soil microbiome can be considered a major driver for ES, as the underlying processes are mostly catalyzed by bacteria, fungi, archaea, protists, or algae. In addition, also other biota including nematodes and earthworms strongly contribute to ES. Thus, it is suggested that the multi-functionality of soils is directly linked to biodiversity. However, it has been suggested that climate- and global change induced shifts in the structure and function of the soil biome, which is often connected to an overall loss of soil biodiversity on all trophic levels and consequently lead to a loss of multifunctionality and soil quality. Therefore, there is a need to develop management strategies for soils that promote biodiversity and make use of its functional potential. To reach this goal an in-depth understanding of factors driving the structure, function, and activity of the soil biome is needed bridging different temporal and spatial scales.This session invites contributions related to (i) understanding factors driving the soil biome and impacts on soil multi-functionality (ii) assessing temporal and spatial dynamics of the soil biome (iii) evaluating the effect of introduced bacterial inoculants on biome composition, plant growth performance, and crop quality, (iv) understanding the role of organismic interactions of different trophic levels for ES (v) determining the role of hotspots and coldspots in the soil to maintain functionality and diversity (vi) describing the role of plant-biota interactions as a major driver overcoming dysbioses of the soil biome. 4. Soil degradation and sustainable soil management in agricultural landscapesConvenersMichael Kuhwald & Eva LehndorffKeynote SpeakerPeter Fiener | Augsburg UniversityAny form of agricultural use (extensive, intensive, arable land, grassland) represents a significant anthropogenic intervention in landscapes and ecosystems and has a direct impact on their material flows, water balance, aboveground and belowground biodiversity. Inappropriate agricultural use can lead to a variety of environmental degradations. In particular, soil as a central landscape component of agricultural production is degraded by inappropriate use, which in extreme cases can lead to the complete cessation of agricultural use. The soil degradation observed worldwide due to inappropriate agricultural use is counteracted by sustainable soil conservation.In this session, we welcome contributions that address the issue of soil degradation, soil fatigue and sustainable soil management and conservation in agricultural landscapes. One focus is on identifying, recording, modeling, and assessing soil threats, for example, soil erosion, soil compaction from traffic and livestock trampling, loss of organic matter and nutrients, acidification, salinization, contamination, drainage, desertification, and imbalances in soil microbial community such as the presence of pathogens. The second focus is on measures and solutions that enable sustainable soil conservation. This includes a discussion of their feasibility and acceptance in the context of economic, social and political conditions. In addition to classical approaches such as the expansion of crop rotations or the cultivation of catch crops, we welcome new and innovative ideas that can contribute to sustainable soil use in the future. 5. Model-based prediction of the dynamics of soil functionsConvenersSara König, Ralf Kiese, Cenk Dönmez & Andrea SchnepfKeynote SpeakerKatharina Meurer | Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, UppsalaComputational models are an essential tool to understand and predict effects of climate change and agricultural management on soil function dynamics and their relationship by describing soil processes, organism dynamics and root-soil interactions. However, combining different inter-related functions and processes of a complex system such as the plant-soil system remain challenging. With this session, we will address several open questions for tackling this challenge, including (but not limited to):How to quantify soil functions such as carbon storage, nutrient cycling, water filter, productivity for parametrizing such complex computational models? How can we use existing long-term field experimental (LTE) data for model implementation and validation? How much details are needed to adequately describe the plant-soil system, while keeping models simple enough for understanding their dynamics? What can we gain from such models to optimize field experiments? How can we use models to assess the management and climate change effects in LTEs? How should such models be designed to provide implications for management strategies at plot to national scales? How can computational models contribute in tackling current challenges such as climate change, limited fertilizer availability/input, etc.?We invite contributions on conceptual and mechanistic models incorporating one or more soil functions relevant for agricultural systems; as well as LTE or remote sensing studies, which may help to improve modelling approaches. We especially aim to stimulate a discussion with experts from various fields of soil science including biology, physics, and chemistry. 6. Using soil sensing technologies for soil mapping, modelling and decision making in agricultureConvenersSebastian Vogel & Marco LorenzKeynote SpeakerAbdul M. Mouazen | Ghent UniversityDue to natural and man-made in-field soil variability, improvement of soil fertility by fertilization and other management measures requires informed decision making based on a detailed assessment of soil properties and deep understanding of soil processes. Inadequate management decisions can deteriorate soil fertility, e.g., by soil compaction and overfertilization. Furthermore, it is well known that conventional uniform management of fields can create yield losses, due to low inputs on some parts of the fields while other parts receive too much inputs leading e.g., to a waste of resources and environmental pollution. Even though technologies for adaptive fertilization, tillage, sowing or harvest are available, their adoption and success rate in practical agriculture is still rather low. To take and apply appropriate measures, farmers and their advisors need information about relevant soil properties. Consequently, executable, affordable and integrated approaches are needed to leverage soil sensing applications for establishing a more site-specific, demand-oriented and sustainable agricultural production.In-situ sensing technologies, which provide timely information with high resolution and at low cost, will play a central role in future farming. These sensing technologies include e.g., machine mounted sensors, sensor platforms or single hand sensors to detect different soil and plant parameters. In combination, sensing technologies and soil monitoring approaches give information about the spatial and temporal variability at field or regional scale and thus cannot be thought without reliable decision support systems which transfer data into knowledge. These decision support systems should cope with new sensor-based data, include dynamic soil and crop models and operate in real- or near-real-time. The combination of sensors, models and decision support systems help farmers to apply soil conserving measures and new management techniques as well as to optimize machine parameters or tillage and fertilizer application.We seek contributions on soil fertility management at field or regional scale using (i) new proximal soil and machine sensing technologies for topsoil and subsoil related to physical, chemical, biological parameters of soil fertility, i.e. single hand sensors, multi sensor platforms, or machine mounted sensors, (ii) methods of sensor data processing and data fusion, (iii) combinations of remote and proximal sensing, (iv) new methods of soil monitoring approaches, and/or (v) models and decision support systems which transfer sensor data into knowledge, e.g., for fertilization, tillage, trafficking, machine adjustment. 7. Soils as a key to climate change mitigation: private and public governance instruments to unlock the potentialConvenersCarsten Paul, Martin Wiesmeier & Christopher JustKeynote SpeakerAna Frelih Larsen | Ecologic Institute, BerlinSoils are the largest terrestrial carbon pool. Even small increases in the organic carbon stock of agricultural soils can make a strong contribution to climate change mitigation. Agricultural management for increasing the amount of carbon fixed in soils and woody biomass, called carbon farming, can help to unlock this potential. Due to the central importance of organic carbon for soil processes, carbon farming typically comes with multiple co-benefits, such as improving nutrient-turnover, soil fertility, infiltration rates and water holding capacity. In this way, they can help to adapt to climate change. However, soil organic carbon stocks are also threatened by global warming which may accelerate mineralization rates and carbon losses.Carbon farming comes with costs to the farmers. Multiple private and public governance instruments exist to (partly) offset these costs and motivate uptake. In addition to state funded schemes, the voluntary carbon-offset market is rapidly expanding, with expected trade volumes reaching tens of billion dollars by 2030. There, increases in soil organic carbon stocks are certified as carbon dioxide removals and sold to companies aiming to become climate-neutral.While there is no doubt on the desirability of increasing carbon stocks in agricultural soils, motivating carbon farming and rewarding contributions to climate change mitigation is challenging. Governance and certification schemes need to account for low accumulation rates and high spatial and temporal variability of carbon stocks, high costs of soil sampling, low penetration depth of remote sensors, as well as high costs of long-term monitoring. Additionally, they need to account for risks such as non-permanence of carbon removals, lack of additionality, or occurrence of leakage effects.This session explores how existing public and private governance instruments address these challenges and by what means they could be improved. We welcome contributions on (I) potentials, synergies and trade-offs of carbon farming measures, including the rewetting of drained organic soils, (II) on certification of carbon removals, (III) on public governance options to motivate the implementation of carbon farming, (IV) on options to deal with non-permanence, to ensure additionality, or to prevent leakage effects, and (V) on effects of global warming on carbon farming and soil organic carbon stocks. 8. Data challenges and solutionsConvenersDavid Russell, Xenia Specka & Edzo VeldkampKeynote SpeakerFenny van Egmond | ISRIC World Soil Information, WageningenIn soil and agricultural sciences, valuable research data is increasingly generated through field experiments, soil and machinery sensors, remote sensing, soil-function models, etc. Some of this data is already accessible via data repositories according to the rules of good scientific practice. However, this is often dispersed throughout various repositories. Furthermore, a substantial part of the community does not utilize existing opportunities for research data publication and reuse. Legal reservations in dealing with sensitive geodata, lack of resources or simply unfamiliarity with appropriate infrastructures are common factors that limit data provision and re-use. It is recognized that the potential for research data preparation, upload to a repository, and download for reuse is not fully exploited and the reproducibility of research therefore suffers. With the advent of big data in agricultural and soil sciences, the reuse of free, high-quality, structured and metadata-described data from a diversity of sources is gaining enormous importance.Proper research data management (RDM) aims to make the most out of generated research data by providing solutions for handling research data throughout the data lifecycle. Through the consequent use of open community standards and the development of so-called FAIR data repositories, RDM has made considerable progress in the recent years with the objective of •  facilitating the findability and accessibility of research (data), enabling the reusability and citability of research data,•  establishing community-driven data quality procedures•  describing research data with accompanying information (e.g., metadata), and•  making research data more reusable even beyond the soil science domain. In this session, we would like to bring together soil-agricultural researchers as “data owners” and “data reusers” as well as infrastructure providers to learn about and discuss current data publication and reuse challenges. In particular, the session aims to increase awareness of the potential of existing data infrastructures for sharing and re-using data. We welcome presentations abouti) existing domain-specific data repositories or current RDM initiatives,ii) examples of infrastructures that manage and disseminate big data,iii) examples and concepts for linking different data infrastructures for broader research questionsiv) best practice examples of project data collaboration,v) challenges in using big data in soil- and agricultural sciences,vi) examples for publishing or reusing data from long-term experiments through novel approaches (e.g., remote sensing, GIS, modelling)vii) definition of data quality aspects to increase data “fitness-for-use”viii) examples of the reusability.