On “World Soil Day” on 5 December, the annual “International Soil Health Conference” will take place at Herman Teirlinckgebouw, Brussels. This year, the conference will run under the theme of “Harnessing biodiversity for better agronomy”.
In Europe, 60-70% of soils have been diagnosed as ‘non healthy’ (EC, 2020). Flanders is no exception. The health of agricultural soils is crucial, not only for sustainable food production but also for the provision of ecosystem services. A growing number of farmers all over the world demonstrate that it is possible to achieve rapid improvements in soil health. They are reporting a better farm income, more nutrient dense food, and the restoration of essential ecosystem functions, including soil carbon buildup. Despite these impressive results, it remains a challenge to unravel the systems approach that pioneers apply every day.
The conference aim is to facilitate the needed paradigm shift from the current focus on chemistry to an agronomy propelled by biodiversity. Scientists, advisory services and farmers who have made this shift will inspire their peers as well as policy makers.
The conference program answers key questions about the future of agronomy, starting with an historical perspective. Other presentations provide scientific evidence for a biodiversity-based approach and present a range of good practices. The conference concludes with grounded recommendations for research, practice and policy.
Scientists, advisors, policymakers and the wider agrifood community