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Saving our soil

Saving our soil

Teagasc is engaged in an extensive range of research including national and international collaborations. Teagasc highlights the impacts of its latest research in "Research impact highlights in 2020". Soil is one such area as Teagasc researchers Michael Gaffney and Dheeraj Rathore outline here

Michael Gaffney, Dheeraj Rathore, Vincent Michel (Agroscope, Switzerland) and Harm Brinks (DELPHY, The Netherlands) bring us this research

Soils are declining in health globally due to urban expansion, deforestation, erosion and unsustainable land use and management practices. Healthy soils are the foundation of healthy food production, and soil-borne diseases and plant pathogenic nematodes are major limiting factors in current cropping systems.

Thematic network Best4Soil was established to build a ‘community of practice’ promoting best practices of crop rotations and soil management techniques for maintaining and rejuvenating soil health across Europe. Teagasc and partners created two databases which gathered existing information on crop and soil-borne pathogen interactions. These databases were then used by the University of Wageningen to create a decision support tool (best4soil.eu/database) for crop rotations.

Teagasc was responsible for the data mining of 29 horticultural crops, using existing literature to assess their susceptibility to over 106 soil-borne diseases and nematodes. The database aims to highlight the potential for disease transfer within crop rotations and allows for more robust rotation planning.

This web-based tool is currently available in 22 languages, and the databases are averaging over 500 sessions per month. As familiarity with these tools grows across Europe and dissemination and training continues, this engagement should increase.

Correspondence: michael.gaffney@teagasc.ie
Other contributors: Bruno Haeller (Bern University of Applied Sciences), Leendert Molendijk and Paulien Van Asperen (Wageningen UR, The Netherlands), Miguel de Cara (IFAPA, Spain) and Marian Damsgaard Thorsted (SEGES, Denmark).
Funding: European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. Grant number 817696.

Find out more here about the 2020 Research Impact Highlights from Teagasc