Project 'The Living Soil'

The project 'The Living Soil' aims to support arable farmers in Groningen and the northern Netherlands in developing more sustainable farming practices.

It is increasingly recognised that soil quality is not only chemical and physical, but also strongly dependent on living soil organisms such as worms, nematodes, fungi and bacteria. Sustainable agriculture depends on a well-functioning soil.

Soil control 'buttons'

So far, most farmers use two familiar control buttons: the 'physical button' and the 'chemical button'. But the third button, soil biology, is still largely a mystery. Key questions are: how does soil life respond to different types of soil management, and how does the composition of soil life influence yields and disease resistance. How do we use this ‘control button’ in order to reduce the amount of chemicals and fertilisers we use?

A solid database

To build a solid reference database, we will collect soil samples from 100 plots and analyse them for soil biology and chemical parameters. Two samples will be taken from each plot. Bioclear earth will analyse the microbiome of the plots using DNA analysis to determine which bacteria, fungi and archaea are present in the samples. This data will then be interpreted.

HLB will provide chemical and nematode analyses for each plot.

We combine all this data with information from the farmers themselves, such as yields, disease susceptibility and agronomic practices. Taken together, this will create a data set that will allow us to study the complex interactions between biology, chemistry, physics and cultivation measures.

Sharing knowledge

The Living Soil project aims to actively share knowledge! We are therefore planning meetings for all participating farmers to discuss the results. In the second year, an inspirational meeting is planned for all interested farmers and colleagues in the sector. The knowledge gained will not only be shared through face-to-face meetings. It will also be passed on through the publication of thought-provoking articles in the agricultural press.

A call to action!

This leaves us with an appeal to all visionary farmers in the Northern Netherlands. Sign up and work with us on the future of sustainable agriculture and contribute to optimising soil quality. Your participation is essential to the success of this innovative project!

This project is supported by ELFPO.

If you want to know more about this project, please contact Eline Keuning or Jidske Knigge.

Eline Keuning
Lead soil health
Jidske Knigge
Soil Microbiology Specialist