Now that the Soil Fungal Communities project has concluded, find out what is in store for our Soil Squad next.
What’s next for the Soil Squad?
Following on from the success of this project, BOFIN is leading a brand-new three-year project that starts in January 2024. Thriving Roots Underpinning Total soil Health (TRUTH) aims to set up a new farmer-led platform to quantify and evaluate soil/root interactions and validate a novel sensor that can ‘smell’ a soil’s biological signature.
TRUTH addresses the current lack of reliable tools available to farmers to monitor, quantify, and improve either soil health or root development. This makes it challenging to understand how interventions may affect crop yield and quality.
There are two key outcomes the project will be aiming to deliver:
A soil health sensor which provides in-field measurement of microbial diversity and fungal:bacterial ratio.
A platform comprising on-farm soil/root health testing tools and a knowledge exchange community farmers can use to inform sustainable soil management (SSM) practices and test productivity improvements of novel genetics and bioproducts.
It will be the Soil Squad who will deliver the platform. BOFIN will be looking to work with up to 30 Root Rangers to develop it over the course of the project, with the help of the other project partners. The Soil Circle will be the community we establish, involving scientists, project partners and others with an interest or experience in soils. This will be the forum through which to trade knowledge and experience on SSM, and specifically the tools we will be developing within the project. It will be hosted in the Knowledge in Farming section of The Farming Forum.
The TRUTH project partners
The British On-Farm Innovation Network (BOFIN)
Leading on farmer engagement, development of Soil Circle, on-farm trials, including Agronomic analysis of trial data through ADAS (contractor) and dissemination. Also breeder advice and steer through KWS UK and RAGT Seeds (contractors).
They have pioneered the sensor technology which will be developed further along with providing information on soil health to farmers.
Crop Health & Protection (CHAP)
Leading on project management and contributing to stakeholder engagement, as well as providing data on soil fungal communities through Crop Science Centre (contractor).
John Innes Centre
Leading the microbiome analysis, supporting farmer training and on-farm trials, seed multiplication and access to novel/unusual rooting traits.
University of Nottingham
Leading on plant-soil interactions, root/soil assessment and development of Root Ranger skills.