LIST researchers are joining forces to tackle the main challenges of soil sustainability.
From earthworms to micro-algae, multiple living beings inhabit our soil and make this environment a key reservoir of biodiversity and the basis of food security. If one of the links in the chain is weakened, it is the balance of the whole ecosystem that is affected, with significant repercussions on its state of health.
In Luxembourg as with multiple regions around the world, these ecosystems are facing many pressures such as urbanisation, pollution and erosion. A good understanding of soil functioning is of paramount importance as soils play an important role for example in carbon storage and nutrient cycling and are thus an important compartment for climate-change related questions and water quality.
To move towards an increased soil sustainability, LIST researchers gathered their strengths to provide a holistic soil approach to Luxembourg main stakeholders and beyond. In total, more than 15 LIST researchers and engineers have joined a Taskforce to make use of their fields of expertise such as microbial ecology, bioinformatics, industrial microbiology, metagenomics and proteomics, agronomy, hydrology and geochemistry, microscopy, to name just a few.
“From advancing research and methodologies through knowledge sharing to supporting and guiding farmers and environmental and agricultural administrations, it was essential for us to leverage our complementary expertise and foster interaction with our partners. This is why we decided to create a Soil Taskforce”, testified Aaron Firoz, Leader of the Hydro-Climatological Observation and Sensing Technology pole of the Observatory for Climate, Environment and Biodiversity.
After only two months of existence, the TaskForce decided to take advantage of the World Soil Day to meet its main stakeholders and unveil their various and promising research activities to achieve better soil sustainability. An initiative received with great enthusiasm by more than 100 participants from Luxembourg and beyond.
“More than an event, this first initiative was the opportunity to start a new dynamic between all the actors concerned by the soil issues in Luxembourg. For example, we were able to present our work on the quality of Luxembourg soil - both spatially and temporally - thanks to our complementary expertise on micro-organisms abundance”, explained Aaron.
One of the soil research paths followed at LIST is indeed to develop new tools using diatoms as bioindicators in Luxembourg’s soils. These micro-algae are well known to be good indicators of environmental conditions. Nevertheless, many advances in the exploration of new species and identification methodologies remain to be made. “And that’s precisely what we are working on and contributing to by feeding current databases with our findings and knowledge as well as helping to develop such platform”, added Carlos Wetzel, LIST specialist on diatom ecology
Ensuring the sustainability of our soil is a major challenge. Even if all the issues raised cannot be solved, we believe that a holistic approach to soil will allow a better understanding of these ecosystems and to give life to new innovative methodologies meeting these global challenges.