One square meter of soil is the home of more than 1 billion organisms. This makes soil the most biodiverse ecosystem of the Earth. Those organisms are crucial to our planet as they support the growth of healthy plants and contribute to the carbon cycle. But, the combination of industrial pollution, intensive farming and the use of fertilisers stripped many farmlands of the nutrients, minerals and microbiomes that support healthy soil life.

At present, the European Union (EU) lacks a comprehensive and consistent policy framework to protect the land. By proposing the European Green Deal, the EU set the goal of becoming climate neutral and restoring the European biodiversity by 2030. The policy plan includes a review of existing laws and the introduction of new policies and pieces of legislation, including the EU Biodiversity Strategy, which was adopted in October 2020. The Biodiversity Strategy aims to put biodiversity on a path to recovery by addressing soil and land degradation. In this context, the Commission will table a new Soil Strategy to define measures that can restore soil fertility and reduce soil erosion. The initiative will propose measures for sustainable management and monitoring practices and will support the research and innovation to develop towards new technologies and solutions.

The EU funded project CIRCLES directs its efforts towards researching and spreading awareness on how plant and animal microbiomes can contribute to sustainable food production. Scientists found that microbiomes are crucial for healthy soil. It is important for such research to continue beyond CIRCLES with a view to unlocking the full potential of microbiomes that could lead towards sustainable food systems.

CIRCLES welcomes the Commission consultation on the new EU soil strategy. We invite plant microbiomes scientists to outline why microbiomes are crucial for the soil and for sustainable food production.

Deadline for providing feedback to the consultation = 10th of December 2020.