Soils are the basis for plant production and provide numerous ecosystem services. Many human activities are affecting the soil conditions in several ways. Effects like soil compaction, degradation, acidification and salt accumulation restrain the basic requirements for plant production and thus food supply for humans.
The overall objective is to provide an interdisciplinary international activity under the title “Educational Network on Soil and Plant Ecology and Management”. The whole activity is divided into four work packages (WP):
WP1: Summer School „Soil & Water“
WP2: Establishing of a permanent teaching Module „Soil and Plant Ecology and Management“ at each university
WP3: Enhancing teaching and networking potential for teachers
WP4: Transposing the educational network into future research and teaching activities.
The project aims to provide a teaching standard for a European wide perspective from the expertise of the consortium (see below) integrating humid, intermediate and dry Mediterranean environments. This approach is a novelty at the European level.
The partners are strong in the following fields:
- Estonian University of Life Sciences, Estonia: soil science, sustainable use of soils, degradation, compaction
- University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic: wetland ecology, soil microbiology, nutrient fluxes and transformations in soils
- Aix-Marseille University, France: soil-plant interaction, chemical ecology, soil organic matter turn-over, plant ecophysiology (especially drought)
- Ulm University, Germany: wetlands and methane emissions, plants and soils under limited oxygen supply, plant ecophysiology
This broad international cooperation was already established in 2012 (Erasmus IP Soil & Water) and is continued since within the project "Educational Network on Soil and Plant Ecology and Management" Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union (duration: 01.09.2014 - 31.08.2017, project total grant: 315 075 €). It promotes general academic competences and has substantial value for subsequent teaching activities for all project partners.
The target groups are students from advanced undergraduate and graduate levels with previous teaching curricula focussed on biology and environmental sciences. The yearly interdisciplinary international course for about 30 students from four countries will bring together expertise from different geographical and climatic locations in Europe. Different land-use and land-history patterns as well as societal structures will be included into the teaching. The next level of the proposed activity is an intensive partnership on the topic resulting in further activities including teaching and research grants. There are four intellectual outputs to be achieved within the project duration reaching from standardized study material up to curricula development and follow-up research activities. The quality of the project will be monitored by an independent quality assurance unit run by the Ulm University. The dissemination ranges from providing specific teaching material, information on project web pages to final meeting activity at the end of the project.
The project structure and outline can be viewed here.