S.O.S. SOIL highlights the importance of soil organic matter and encourages policy makers to develop instruments to move Europe towards implementing sustainable, climate proof soil management practices. “Soil is a vital, nonrenewable resource for ecosystems, playing an essential role in services such as water purification and food production,” explain the organizers. “It is also a major global carbon sink, with significant potential to remove climate-changing gases from the atmosphere. However, the ability of soil to deliver ecosystem services — in terms of food production, as a biodiversity pool and as a regulator of gasses, water and nutrients — is under severe pressure.”
The main Priority Goals of the S.O.S. SOIL Initiative are to:
- Increase soil organic matter in arable soils by adding stabilized organic matter from the biological treatment of biowaste
- Encourage more efficient management of nutrients on agricultural land
- Protect the existing stock of carbon in soils
- Minimize further losses of carbon from cultivated carbon rich soils
- Ensure that the European Commission adopts a Soil Framework Directive
The European Compost Network recently published two new factsheets — “Soil Structure & Carbon Storage” and “Soil Fertility & Productivity,” which can be downloaded from the S.O.S. SOIL website. The factsheets cover the following:
- Soil Structure & Carbon Storage: Focuses on the benefit of regular application of compost in respect to the storage of high amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Among the positive aspects of compost application highlighted in the factsheet is the enrichment of soil organic matter, which leads to improved soil structure and a higher level of soil microbiological activity. An estimation of Europe’s potential for carbon sequestration by recycling of biowaste to high quality compost illustrates the importance of this resource.
- Soil Fertility & Productivity: Raising the nutrient level is emphasized in the second factsheet. High quality compost from biowaste is described as a useful source of nutrients and has many other positive effects on soils. The potential fertilizer value in Europe derived by using high quality compost from biowaste (in Euros) is estimated and illustrates the positive economic benefit.