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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri

Bridging the Gap between Knowledge and Practical Application: Linking Microbes, Organic Matter and Sick Soil Syndrome (SICKSOIL)

Alternative title: Kunnskap og praktisk anvendelse: Betydningen av mikrober og organisk materiale for syk jordtrøtthet (SICKSOIL)

Awarded: NOK 3.6 mill.

SICKSOIL, a collaborative project in agriculture and food industry, is dedicated to improving soil health, particularly in Norwegian fruit production. The project aims to achieve the following key objectives: 1) Enhancing food safety: This is accomplished through careful monitoring of disease-causing plant pathogens and promoting sustainable production systems to ensure food safety. 2) Promoting fruit production: SICKSOIL pays special attention to stimulating fruit production throughout Norway. This focus area aims to improve soil health to ensure a healthy and sustainable fruit production. 3) Creating increased value: The project seeks to reduce the need for chemical pesticides and mineral fertilizers by improving crop yields through the use of microbial communities.4) Promoting sustainable agriculture: SICKSOIL is strongly committed to improving the carbon footprint in agriculture by investigating the relationship between carbon storage, soil health, microbial communities, and various forms of organic materials. The project specifically focuses on exploring the causes of soil fatigue in fruit production. This issue, known as the "sick soil syndrome," has serious consequences for fruit trees cultivated in soil previously used for fruit production. SICKSOIL aims to understand the role of microorganisms and organic materials in soil health to combat this syndrome. This knowledge is essential for transitioning to more sustainable practices in fruit production and has the potential for broader applications in Norwegian agriculture. Soil health is of great importance for food production and sustainability, as the soil provides a wide range of ecosystem services crucial for agriculture. Unfortunately, microorganisms in the soil, which play a key role in the ecosystem, are often overlooked in soil health assessments.

Soil is a complex system that is essential for food production in the world. Historically, the concept of soil health has developed from earlier concepts of soil, such as "soil quality" and "soil fertility", but the concept is different by integrating assessment criteria that revolve around sustainability and climate. Today, soil health and soil fatigue (eng: sick soil syndrome) are assessed almost exclusively on the basis of chemical and physical indicators. This is a paradox because soil life, and in particular microorganisms (microbes) are the key players in the soil ecosystem and they are essential for the development of good soil health. SICKSOIL will be the first research and collaboration project in Norway where we will produce new knowledge directly related to the role of microbes, and how these organisms function in interaction with organic material. In an international context, the project is unique because it is done in the context of fruit production (i.e. apple, plum and morel production). This will form a new knowledge-based platform for changing cultivation practices in fruit production for apple, plum and morel both in Norway and internationally. Six fruit producers and the Telefrukt producer team have helped design and finance the project, and will help implement the results in consultation with advisory services and farmer organisations. The project group otherwise consists of top international interdisciplinary expertise in the fields of soil, microbiology, virology (viruses), medical biochemistry and bioinformatics.

Funding scheme:

FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri