Territorial workshop: example from South Tyrol

A joint territorial event „Bodengesundheit im Fokus“ was held at the Free University of Bozen Bolzano (UNIBZ), a HuMUS consortium partner, on 16 May  2024. The four-hour event was organised in two languages: German and Italian, and included presentations and workshops of two Horizon Europe Mission Soil projects: ECHO (coordinated by UNIBZ) and HuMUS, where UNIBZ is a partner. Thirty-five stakeholders, including students, farmers, advisors, farmer associations, a consortium of South Tyrolean fruit growers’ cooperatives,  a working group for biodynamic agriculture, researchers, and policymakers, etc., participated in activities organised by the team of the Competence Centre for Plant Health and its director Prof. Tanja Mimmo.  

The event started with a general introduction and presentation of both projects followed by two presentations concerning a description of the living labs and the pilot case study South Tyrol of HuMUS.  

Participants were active and particularly interested in the differences between organic and conventional agriculture, the effect of the different cover crops, soil health indicators, and comparisons between different sites.   

HuMUS project activities included stakeholder mapping (the first step of the sociogram) and digital and physical signature of the Mission soil Manifesto of the European Commission. The signatories will have access to the latest research findings on the subject and the opportunity to participate in knowledge-sharing activities and events aimed at exchanging best practices for soil care.  

The workshop ended with a fruitful discussion between the participants and organizers. The final outcomes included evaluation of the stakeholders’ urgency and needs related to the projects’ aims, to design further activities tailored to soil health. We discussed (i) potential and desired activities of soil stewards (a training course elaborated by the HUMUS project); (ii) an appropriate communication strategy for engaging more people into activities of both projects; (iii) potential human factors influencing the choice of the sampling site, so the training materials should include an explanation on how to choose a sampling site and how to withdraw a representative soil sample; (iv) inviting advisors and soil experts within the soil sampling campaign and citizen science initiatives could be a potential solution for alleviating this human factor.     

Additional activities for both projects will be organised, and the same stakeholders, given their interest in soil health, will continue to be involved.  

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