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Soil Fertility & Climate

Soils are habitats; they regulate material and energy cycles, produce food and feedstuff, they serve as building ground, store raw materials and preserve information from natural and cultural history. Many of these ecosystem services are closely linked to the quantity and quality of soil organic matter (humus). This matter contributes greatly to improving plant productivity and health, water retention capacity as well as tolerance to drought and extreme weather events. An intact and functioning soil is of particular importance for organic farming systems, as they depend largely on biologically driven processes. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the adaptive capacity to climate change also play an important role in the sustainable development of future cultivation systems. We, therefore, need to better understand which agricultural measures improve the soil and we need to progress towards the sustainable intensification of organic farming. We also need to develop a system that rewards farmers for improving the environmental quality.

We are currently looking into the following questions, among others:

  • Through which measures and to what extent does organic farming contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to binding CO2 in the soil through the formation of stable humus?
  • How can organic farming contribute to adaptation to climate change?
  • How can the potential of organic farming be recognised and promoted?
  • Which indicators of soil quality are particularly suitable for identifying effects of soil management? Which digital technologies can optimise the assessment?
  • What does a self-sufficient and climate-neutral organic farm look like?
  • Using simple methods, how can farmers investigate by themselves how fertile their soil is?

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Further information

Organic farming and climate change