FI-3 :: Gathering and synthesizing data on the state of soils and waters for policy formulation

Policy formulation concerning land use and soil-sediment-water systems in both European and national levels calls for a holistic view on the current state of soils and waters in different areas. The identification of biggest challenges should be based on a synthesis of research findings in different disciplines.
Consequences of policies, both direct and indirect, should be studied carefully, because causal chains can be long. E.g. the areal allocation of agricultural subsidies has resulted in spatial differentiation of animal husbandry from plant production in Finland, causing problems to find sufficient amount of fields for spreading manure in the areas of intensive animal production, which has led to an increase in the clearing of peatlands with consequent high greenhouse gas emissions.
Furthermore, the coverage and compatibility of basic datasets, such as geographic data on European soils, needs to be enhanced. At the moment, the data on minerogenic soil characteristics in EU countries are not in line with each other and are not suitable e.g. to define agricultural risk areas. Current names of soil types don’t take into consideration soil moisture which might become more important along with changing climate. Organic soil classification varies considerably from country to country and this leads e.g. differences in calculations of GHG-emissions.
Possible research questions may be:
Net impacts, demand:
• What would the criteria and ways to comprehensively assess the use of natural resources?
• How to maintain and combine different time series data to detect long-term changes?
Land management:
• How to promote the harmonisation of classifications (e.g. organic soils) and gather comparable attribute data on soils and other surficial deposits?
• How to gather evidence base for decision making and summarise diverse research findings in a comprehensive way?
• How is the knowledge used in policy formation and how are the consequences of chosen policies considered?
• How to combine the various information resources together so that they would be widely and easily accessible as possible and combinable e.g. in a common research portal?