Soil Fertility Coalition

A group of Dutch soil experts with different backgrounds - development organisations, private sector and research - has started a collaborative effort in view of generating more synergy, implementation power, and more impact on the ground. This impact is expected to be in the domain of improved farming and food systems resilience. After a phase of exploration of general ideas and expectations, the coalition started planning joint work in June 2021.

Developing a common vision on soil fertility

The initial coalition members are currently developing a common vision on soil fertility which will provide a basis for the joint work and for creating synergies. They build on the first ideas developed by the initiators of the coalition, IFDC and 2Scale last year, which proposes to mobilise Dutch soil knowledge from science, business and development organisations and to follow a comprehensive approach to promote healthy soils.

If you have an interest in joining this Collective Impact Coalition we invite you to Contact Nicole Metz for further information.

Expectations collaborative action

Initial members of the coalition have expressed the following expectations of collaborative action:

  • More impactful interventions that address the root causes of soil degradation (outcome level).
  • Contribute to existing programmes and investments, raising their quality and effectiveness through a systemic approach to enhance soil fertility with an inclusive value chain approach.
  • Mobilise Dutch soil knowledge from science, business and NGOs and jointly create impact in developing countries.
  • Jointly benefit from and contribute to a collaborative platform in which linking to new actors and initial programming could take place.

Preliminary description of the soils concept used

Healthy soils, as the habitat for plants and animals, store the largest amounts of fresh water, nutrients, and carbon of all biomass, with plant-microbe interactions facilitating the uptake of water and nutrients for plant growth. The linkage of this fundamental life function of soils with global themes like climate change, water and food security and life on land and sea often goes unnoticed. Generally, the sustainable management of soils is not a priority.

The root causes for the lack of sustainable investments to maintain soil fertility and health may be ascribed to divergent temporal and spatial dimensions of economic and edaphic (soil-plant-microbe) processes, ambiguous actor responsibilities and improper valuation of soil functions:

  • Productive agro-ecological systems call for the integrated management of soil, water, air, energy, and genetic resources (seeds) in changing climatic conditions rather than partial interventions.
  • Economic rationale imposing short term financial gains may trigger short term over-exploitation of soils with long term negative implications whereas prevention of soil degradation and, to a much higher degree, the maintenance and restoration of soil health are long term processes.
  • The outputs from cultivated lands – both intended food and non-food products as well as unintended ones such as greenhouse gasses and leachates polluting air and water – are used or experienced spatially distant from the cultivated lands.
  • The integrated agro-technical management and spatial-temporal gap leads to lack of awareness, interest and disconnect between stakeholders that are directly dependent and those indirectly dependent from soils, leading to ambiguous responsibilities with regards to sustainable soil management.

Policymakers, business actors and other stakeholders responsible for creating viable conditions for sustainable soil management appear unable to develop mechanisms that lead to the right valuation of soils by closing spatial-temporal and stakeholder gaps. Such mechanisms are more so needed to produce ‘more with less’: doubling or even tripling of food production with the same or less land, water, and other natural resources.

Interest in coalition expressed by

Interested in joining this Collective Impact Coalition?

Contact

Nicole Metz.jpg

Nicole Metz

Netherlands Food Partnership

nmetz@nlfoodpartnership.com