Agricultural soil and Horizon Europe
By Ingemar Pongratz
Agriculture in Europe provides considerable economic output. According to Eurostat, this sector contributed with more than 400 billion EUR towards the total value production in the European Union. However, the agricultural sector is under pressure and the number of workers is declining in many European countries.
There are many reasons for this decline, for example higher costs for intermediate products such as fertilizers, increasing international competition etc. The key role of the agricultural sector was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Sweden for example, there was a concern that the distribution channels for food would be disrupted and lead to food shortages. This concern highlighted the key role for food production in Europe to ensure that there is sufficient output to support European consumers with food produced in Europe.
Furthermore, the European Commission has highlighted the role of European agriculture in the transition towards a CO2 neutral Europe. The EC expects that new technology should increase outputs from EU agriculture. In fact, the EU Green Deal expects also that there should be an increase in forestry in EU to ensure that CO2 is trapped in trees.
Taken together the EU expects both increased food production and increased forestry activities in the future.
The question is whether this is possible?
Clearly, novel more efficient agricultural strategies are required to achieve these ambitious goals. Efficient, and sustainable products are required to achieve these policy objectives. To reach these goals the future European Research and Innovation scheme, Horizon Europe, has launched a mission devoted to increase knowledge around arable agricultural soil and how a secure agricultural soil for future generations.
The EC has launched a call for ideas from European industry and general public to provide ideas how to improve soil health. The EC highlights the key role for agricultural soil to tackle climate change and calls for ideas to find solutions in this area.
In fact, there are many problems. Modern agriculture requires extensive use of chemical fertilizers, which are known to erode the quality of agricultural land. A recent Plos One research study shows that the use of nitrogen fertilizers is connected with soil acidity and impacts negatively on the soil microbiota.
Chemical fertilizers can in part be replaced with manure. However, there are problems associated with manure as well. For example, a Nature article demonstrates that manure can contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria which are present in animals. Also, animal husbandry relies on the use of metals to control disease in certain animals such as swine. These metals represent a source for concern and can also damage the integrity of agricultural soil.
New safe and efficient products are required to secure the integrity and safety of agricultural soil.
Letavis AB has recently developed new strategies to bypass chemical fertilizers with safe and efficient compounds. Letavis AB has launched several large pilot experiments to provide proof of concept and is in the process of introducing these products into the market.
Ingemar Pongratz is cofounder of Letavis AB and of Fenix Scientific AB. Through Fenix Scientific AB / Pongratz Consulting, we help universities and enterprises to apply for European funding. More information is available on the Letavis AB homepage or the Pongratz Consulting homepage. Alternatively, please send an email to:
Ingemar.Pongratz () pongratzconsulting.com