Thematic Synthesis TS1: Soil and food production

The thematic synthesis presents the results and applications generated in NRP 68, and it casts light on open questions in relation to conservation agriculture. It offers an overall view of soil services in the context of agricultural food production.

  • Background (completed research project)

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    Several projects of NRP 68 have investigated which farming practices support and enhance ecosystem services provided by the soil to the benefit of humans. At the same time, the economic aspects of food production are considered.

  • Aim

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    Based on a review of the latest findings in soil science, ways of improving the quality of agricultural soil are highlighted. The synthesis report proposes approaches to use soil more efficiently as a resource in food production and protect it at the same time so that it can continue to provide key ecosystem services. Strategies addressing these trade-offs and contributing to the improvement of soil quality in order to meet requirements for sustainable food production are presented.

  • Relevance

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    The thematic synthesis is based on the results generated in the NRP 68 projects that investigated topics such as soil use and soil management in agriculture. It combines these results and shows why healthy and fertile soils are essential for sustainable food production and how these soils can be maintained. The role of plants and soil organisms and their importance for the development of cultivation methods are also considered.

  • Results

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    The quality of agricultural soil is threatened in particular by soil compaction, erosion and the loss of soil organic matter and biodiversity. The thematic synthesis discusses the results of NRP 68 on these challenges and presents a vision of site-specific, regionally adapted agriculture: increased consideration of soil functions and less use of heavy machinery and auxiliary materials.