Four new projects for research phase 2

The Swiss National Science Foundation has approved four projects for the second research phase of the National Research Programme "Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource" (NRP 68).

In January 2015, the Steering Committee invited the researchers of NRP 68 to submit projects for the second research phase. Complementing the ongoing research, the new projects needed to focus on new soil assessment tools and to develop concepts and strategies for sustainable use of soil.

In the project "Biological pest control", the team of Ted Turlings of the University of Neuchâtel aims to embed nematodes and bacteria in alginate beads. The idea is to prolong the shelf life of these organisms and to facilitate their use in biological pest control.

In the project "Land use model", Armin Keller and his team will develop a tool to chart and predict trends in land use and soil management. The tool will help to promote sustainable land use and estimate the potential of steering measures.

In their project "Soil improving cropping systems", Raphaël Charles and his team will examine 60 fields to establish if the no-till approach is suitable for promoting soil functions, biodiversity and carbon storage without negative impacts on yield and income.

In the project "Land use decisions", the team of Stephan Rist at the University of Berne is compiling case studies of large-scale land acquisitions in the South. The aim is to gain an overview of positive and negative impacts on key soil functions and the social conflicts to which they are linked. This will provide a basis for recommendations in the areas of resource and development politicspolicy.

The four projects have a running time of two years and will get under way in early 2016. In total, they will receive CHF 1.4 million from the Swiss National Science Foundation. NRP 68 now comprises 25 projects selected from its own calls and a further 12 projects from the Joint Programming Initiative Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE–JPI).