Soil sustainability: where does Luxembourg stand?

Published on 05/12/2022

On the occasion of World Soil Day and following the success of the "Soil Sustainability in Luxembourg" event, LIST experts reveal the current state of Luxembourg's soils, the challenges they face and how a Luxembourg Soil Society could help protect them.

Why is soil protection crucial for both the environment and society?

Whether globally or in Luxembourg, soils are facing multiple pressures that pose a threat to  biodiversity, water quality and food production, among other things. To understand this, soils can be visualised as living ecosystems. They are made up of an immense biodiversity of living creatures, each of them having a very important function, for example enabling crops and forests to grow.
Other organisms enable soils to be excellent carbon sinks but the reverse is also true: soils release carbon into the atmosphere through the decomposition process of organic matter, and it is precisely this fragile balance of our soils that gives them an important role to play in the context of climate change.

What are the current challenges facing soils in Luxembourg?

Change in land use in Luxembourg is one of the greatest pressures. Demand is so high that we can consider that the equivalent of a football field is sealed every day. However, this increasing trend in soil degradation is also due to pollution, loss of biodiversity, acidification, erosion, compaction and many more factors that human practices can influence. Climate change adds an additional pressure to soils. It is therefore particularly important to know and understand our soils to ensure their protection and sustainability.

However, this highlights another major challenge for Luxembourg and many other countries: very little is known about various soil types except for agricultural ones. At LIST, we are working on most of these challenges with a holistic approach. Indeed, we benefit from many fields of expertise such as pedology, microbial ecology, biodiversity, agronomy, hydrology and geochemistry, to name but a few.

How could we address these challenges?

This was precisely the focus of the scientific conference "Soil Sustainability in Luxembourg" that we organised on 2 December in partnership with the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development, and which welcomed over 180 participants.

Adopting an integrative soil strategy in Luxembourg is key to tackling current challenges and ensuring better soil protection and sustainability. However, this can only be achieved if soil professionals, farmers, researchers and all representatives of public authorities join forces to leverage their knowledge, expertise, and best practices. A desire that was affirmed at the closing of the event with the participants’ unanimous positive response for the creation of a Luxembourg Soil Society.


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Prof. Dr Lucien HOFFMANN
Prof. Dr Lucien HOFFMANN

Director of Environmental Research and Innovation department

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