The goal of the SMS (Soil Mission Support) international project is to coordinate research and development and innovation program in the use and management of soil and land. The project supports the Horizon Europe Soil Health and Food Mission, the European Green Deal and the achievement of soil-related goals from the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). From Hungary, the ELKH ATK TAKI research group, led by Dr Péter László, will contribute to the international consortium.

Sustainable use and management of soil is essential for the functioning of soil and supporting the vital services soil provides in relation to the ecosystem – including food supply, the water cycle and nutrient cycle, buffering and filtering capacities, carbon storage and ensuring biodiversity. Soil also plays a vital role in mitigating and adapting to climate change. However, as a result of growing demand – in relation to the food industry, energy, infrastructure and urbanisation – our soil is experiencing ever greater pressure and our planet is threatened with soil degradation.

The SMS project will be responsible for assessing current knowledge, research and innovation programs and development needs related to the use and management of soil and land in order to achieve its set goals. Detailed analysis from researchers has revealed gaps in our current knowledge. As a result, the project will develop a research and innovation agenda that sets research priorities at European level in the field of soil and land use, with a specific focus on the characteristics of specific local areas.

The SMS project involves a wide range of stakeholders and will involve not only researchers but educators, farmers, experts, policy makers and the general population. The assessments will be carried out by researchers with the involvement of all those who are involved in land use (agriculture, forestry, spatial planning, climate, soil, water and disaster management, etc.), with a special focus on future professionals, young farmers and experts in their field. Project participants will analyze the results of the surveys using a trans/interdisciplinary approach, taking into account research and innovation needs and then pinpointing priority areas for development based on the gaps identified.

For informational purposes, the researchers will implement the living labs concept where, in addition to the relevant experts, the general public will also be able to view the activities of the project and the results attained. They will also use exemplary solutions (Lighthouses) to present what should be done and how tasks should be performed.

The ongoing development of the roadmap will take place on a common planning platform, which will also facilitate its practical implementation. The consortium will include eight institutions from eight European countries – Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Ireland and Hungary – whose prestigious representatives will contribute to the success of the project with their expertise in the sustainable use and management of soil and land. The SMS project is also supported by a number of international organisations and initiatives, including BIOEAST, ADEME, Danubius-RI and SedNet.

Further information about the project:

Dr Péter László Senior Research Fellow – Institute for Soil Science at ELKH’s Centre for Agricultural Research, laszlo.peter[at]atk.hu.