Soil and knowledge are the most important resources of agriculture. In addition, soil is a complex ecosystem, which is challenging to manage with current tools and on-farm practices. The OSMO project faces these challenges: It is a collaborative network which transforms new research findings into practical action and on-farm learning. OSMO helps farmers who are interested in improving soil health and soil management.
One of the key aspects of the project is to improve on-farm resource efficiency. In addition to soil management, also the use of non-renewable and renewable inputs is considered and new management practices are applied. Managing agricultural soils better will also affect natural resources in a larger context (i.e. carbon sequestration and reduced eutrophication).
Subtopics of the project are related to improving soil testing methods, farmer know-how in soil health management, developing practical tools for soil management and informing the general public on soil health and its management. There is plenty of new research information available in the scientific literature, but the practical application and testing is still lacking.
Farmers are involved in three levels of the project:
- eight on-farm trials demonstrate the impact of management on soil quality and productivity during a three year research period. They also serve as a testing ground for new and internationally used soil analysis tools (e.g. soil respiration and microbiome tests, comparison of soil extractants, trace nutrients and beneficial substances).
- five farmer’s study groups (c.a. 20 farmers per group) help farmers to make a holistic soil management plan for their farms and get peer support from members of the group and professional soil and crop advisors
- one day workshops, field days and demonstrations will invite regional farmers to observe and share experiences on different aspects of soil management (e.g. nutrient management, structure, tillage, cover crops and soil biology.
The project focuses on four regions, which are top-priorities for managing the Baltic Sea nutrient emissions: South Ostrabothnia, Satakunta Region, South-West Finland and Uusimaa Region. Each area has its own typical soils and crop production mixes, ranging from heavy clays to sand and peatlands.
The project is a joint project between University of Helsinki Ruralia Institute and Rural Advisory Services ProAgria (Southwestern Finland and South Bothnia regions). The project is funded by Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in Southwest Finland (Rural Development Programme for Mainland Finland 2014-2020 / Special Funding for Water Protection and Nutrient Recycling), the foundation for organic production development (Luomusäätiö), Eu-rofins Viljavuuspalvelu Oy, Soilfood Oy, Tyynelän Maanparannus Oy and Ecolan Oy.
The experiences from the project will be applied in developing guidelines, calculators and tools for soil management. These will be made publicly available for the general scientific and farming community.
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