TUdi is conceived as a transformative cooperative project which aims to develop, upscale and popularise soil healing strategies in three major agricultural systems and farm typologies across Europe, China and New Zealand. To do this, TUdi relies on 15 research institutions and SMEs from all over the world, as well as a network of 42 cooperating stakeholder organisations and 66 long-term experiments and monitored farms in the participating countries.
Aimed to lead the way in improving soil health across EU, China and New Zealand, TUdi will develop healthy and productive agricultural ecosystems, which are among the most challenging UN development goals for 2030, including zero hunger, no poverty, climate action and life on land.
“Achieving global and regional food security and soil based ecosystem services depends on our ability to use the best science and experience,” comments project Coordinator José A. Gómez of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Spain. ”In this way, we will drive widespread adoption of technologies to reverse degradation of agricultural soils and increase soil quality for food production, without damaging the wider environment.” The project is co-coordinated by Xiaoping Zhang of Northwest A&F University (NWAFU), China.
Although monitoring the degradation of soil quality has progressed, less has been achieved to reverse soil degradation. About two billion people and 1.9 billion hectares of land are affected by land degradation globally, with an estimated cost to the global economy between $18-20 trillion USD annually. The European Commission estimates that current management practices result in approximately 60-70% of EU soils being unhealthy, with a further uncertain percentage of unhealthy soils due to poorly quantified pollution issues.
Multiple comprehensive EU and Chinese initiatives recognise the challenge of increasing agricultural production to supply the growing demands for healthy and sustainable food, while at the same time conserving their soil resource base.
Against this background, the TUdi project plans four coherent steps:
- Engaging and cooperating with multiple stakeholders to identify and understand their needs and possibilities for strategies to cope with soil degradation
- Developing a set of farming planning tools to facilitate implementation of fertilization and strategies for soil degradation control and soil restoration at farm scale
- Providing different types of stakeholders with a thorough understanding of the impact of these soil restoring strategies
- Scaling up the adoption of sustainable use of soils in a large number of multiple farms
To mark the start of the TUdi project, its kick-off meeting was held on 22 and 23 July 2021 in an online environment. Despite the time difference, 35 people from 15 organisations across 2 continents and 2 islands attended. China, Hungary, Spain, Bulgaria, Czechia, Austria, New Zealand, the UK and Italy join forces in this four-year transcontinental research endeavour.