Soil Stories

Tell us your stories and inspire other people !

The potential of soils and sediments to provide solutions for current societal challenges deserves to be put in the spotlight.

On this page we present inspirational stories about the societal relevance of soils and sediments from Flanders.  At the Global Soil Week 2015 in Berlin, participants will be asked to share their stories. The stories can take on different forms: from written words, to images, audio and movies.  Even if you cannot attend the Global Soil Week, you are invited to take a look at the stories, reflect on your own inspiring experiences and send us your own stories via Or share them on twitter using the hashtag #soilstories.

Biochar as fertilizer for European agriculture? Yes or no?

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desertLand Degradation, Desertification Might Create 50 Million Climate Refugees Within A Decade

Desertification - climate change-triggered degradation of land ecosystems - might, in a decade, create 50 million refugees, the Economics of Land Degradation (ELD), a global initiative led by 30 different research groups, warned in a new study.

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Changes in soil quality and land-use can change a neighbourhood

Park Spoor NoordThe decontamination and re-development of an old, neglected and polluted 24-hectare railway marshalling yard in Antwerp in 2008/2009,  has lead to the creation of one of the most popular recreational parks in the city of Antwerp, Park Spoor Noord (North Railway Park). It also triggered a social and economic transformation of the surrounding neighbourhood. It's now a favourite urban spot for many citizens and visitors of Antwerp.

Through the Park Spoor Noord project, the area arround the park became an attractive neighbourhood and the housing prices are rising. Vanessa has bought a house in this area a few years ago and is very happy with this investment.

Vanessa's story (audio)

archiefbeeld Park Spoor Noord

foto: Max Delie

climate changeHow can a change in land-use lead to migration?

The region arround Almeria in Spain was covered with forest in historical times. 150 years ago the trees were used for the lead mines. Resaerch suggests that the deforestation and more recently air pollution (which influences the formation of rain drops) has resulted in loss of summer storms and drought.

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groentenThe Carbon Sponge

The soil stores approximately 2,000 billion tonnes of carbon globally – three times as much as the atmosphere. And 1/10 th of the carbon in the atmosphere has come from soil degradation. Our first and most urgent goal must be to stop any more soil carbon being released, helping to warm the planet. If politicians would put a price on CO2, that would help to protect soils. The carbon in the soil has another role, it acts as a sponge and retains water. One extra gramme of humus can hold 20 grammes of water, which illustrates that building soil fertility not only increases the potential of soils to store carbon, but can also significantly develop its resilience to drought and flooding. (Walter Jehne, Soils for Life).

koe en filmcameraBodemboeren is een Nederlandse documentaire over agrarische koplopers in het duurzame beheer van de levende bodem. Hierin vertellen 5 eigenwijze boeren samen een nieuw bodemverhaal.

In Thailand, people in local communities have been trained to become ‘soil doctors’. These young farmers are volunteers and they work together with the Land Development Department to assist farmers in better understanding how soil operates and how the can practice soil conservation and sustainable land resource management. They form a large network and collaborate in a systematic way across the country.

soilWhat If the World’s Soil Runs Out?

A broken food system is destroying the soil and fuelling health crises as well as conflicts, warns Professor John Crawford of the University of Sydney.

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riesling wineRiesling rocks

Did you know that The riesling grape grows on rocky soil and that the taste of the different wines depends on the soil it grows on ? The name of the soil is even written on the wine bottle.

Healthy soils are important for high quality food

The ‘botanisher salon’ in Berlin is an initiative that works with people to explain the value of food that has been grown in healthy and nutrient rich soil. They raise awareness around the importance of high quality food for a better and more healthy life.

On you can get a first idea of how they help people on getting healthy with good food.

In Australia a more holistic management of soils is on the rise, in which the natural processes are mimicked. This can result in understanding the impact of grazelands on carbon production in a more integrated way.

What is required is a paradigm shift from industrial agriculture (with big monocultures, fertilizer and pesticides etc) to more ecological based practices.


Let's make a green desert

By planting 4,5 milion trees in Burkina Faso, fertile soils are created and the live of 50 000 Africans has improved and they no longer want to emigrate to Europe.

Read more and watch the movie on

logo european commissionLand use changes (deforestation and soil sealing) can lead to extreme weather

A professor in Spain Millán M. Millán , has researched into the effects of land take and sealing. Because of the additional sealing, clouds are not able to capture enough water and thus they are too light and are able to fly over mountains, where before they couldn’t. Consequently the rain they are holding is released in other areas than before, creating on the one hand draughts and on the other extensive rain. (look for Millán M. Millán).

Soil can refresh you, help to solve problems and creates memories

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In Kenya , a process in under way to include soil protection in relation to land policy in the constitution, as it is crucial to safeguard land, not only for acgriculture or pastoralist, but also for religious practices. Ensuring community land that is part of the commons is important enough to include it in the national constitution.

Water retention and the prevention of flooding is an important role of soils

Soils are incredibly important to tackle the spring drafts that force so many people to water their gardens with potable tap water. In my own garden I make sure that I cover the soil with a good layer of compost or plantmaterial, this ensures that the soil can retain the water during a longer period of time because the sun can no longer dry the soil. I do not have to water my garden (often) as even only one rainshower a week is sufficient to keep the plants happy.

Thomas Strassburger

We have to look at the soil problems on a global scale, not only on a national or European scale.  If we do not do that we will have global problems like food in security, emigration, ...

Arndt Wüstemeyer, PT-DLR  Germany

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