Healthy soil: towards a factual analysis.
25 November 2022
The Netherlands (as so many other countries) faces a radical task when it comes to improving nature, preventing further climate change and optimizing water quality. Data-driven soil management deserves a place in the Agricultural Agreement between the agricultural sector and the cabinet. So states Eurofins Agro Testing Wageningen B.V. (Netherlands) in the report "Healthy soil: towards a factual analysis”.
Soil analyses provide insight into soil health of agriculture and nature and is a practical tool for monitoring whether soil health targets have been met, but also whether climate and water quality targets are being met. Soil analyses provide data that allows a factual analysis of the state of nature.
A healthy soil
Eurofins endorses that this requires measures to achieve a more sustainable society and argues that these measures can only be effective if the baseline situation and objectives for the soil are clearly defined.
Achieving this task begins with ensuring healthy soil in agriculture and nature. A healthy soil is characterized, among other things, by sufficient calcium for nature, sufficient organic matter for the climate (CO2 binding) and sufficient buffering and purifying capacity to support water quality and prevent further soil acidification.
There are several conceivable paths along which the final goal can be reached. In each case, measuring and monitoring soil and water quality provides insight into the results of the measures taken. Thus, a factual analysis of soil health and the state of nature is possible.
Deposition measurements by the Dutch RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) and the related critical deposition value (‘KDW’ in Dutch) have so far guided the nitrogen policy. However, it cannot be determined with certainty whether an exceedance of the critical deposition value actually results in damage to nature. A new approach to analyzing the state of nature is therefore necessary.
Soil testing is a valuable complement to deposition measurements because it provides concrete data on the actual status of the soil. For example, the same amount of nitrogen may leach out in soil A while in soil B it is absorbed in organic matter. In the first case, the nitrogen acidifies the soil, while in the second case, that nitrogen contributes positively to soil carbon storage.
Measurement results from soil testing show processes in the soil, which deposition measurements ignore. Soil testing enables a factual analysis of soil health and thus provides certainty about the effectiveness of measures to restore nature.
Data and knowledge of soil
Eurofins has an extensive database of data on Dutch agricultural soils and the coverage of this research is nationwide. Eurofins' soil experts have thorough knowledge in the field of soil health and cooperate nationally and internationally with renowned scientific institutions. Analyzing and interpreting soil data in relation to climate and water is part of their expertise. Eurofins can and will therefore contribute to addressing the nitrogen issue and improving the quality of nature.
Eurofins therefore can and wants to make a contribution to addressing the nitrogen issue and improving the quality of nature.
Download the brochure: Vision for data-driven soil management
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