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Agricultural development of arid and semi-arid Mediterranean territories: kick-off of the European SHARInG-MeD project

Coordinated by the University of Pisa, funded under the PRIMA Programme

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sharing medSoil fertility and agricultural systems in the arid and semi-arid areas of the Mediterranean are the main focus of the European research project SHARInG-MeD “Soil Health and Agriculture Resilience through an Integrated Geographical information systems of Mediterranean Drylands, coordinated by the University of Pisa and financed by  the PRIMA Programme with a total budget of 4.1 million euros, of which about 1 million is earmarked for the University of Pisa. The project’s chief scientific officer is Sergio Saia, associate professor of Agronomy and Herbaceous Cultivation at the Department of Veterinary Sciences.  The project will run for three years and it aims to promote soil quality and the resilience of agricultural systems in the drylands and semi-arid areas of the Mediterranean regions through an integrated study on a geographical scale of a wide range of indicators of soil fertility and agricultural health of systems and of territories.

Partners from all over the Mediterranean are involved in “SHARInG-MeD” with a wide variety of expertise, from nematology (Morocco) to entomology and environmental quality (Algeria), from soil science (Tunisia) to soil microbiology (Spain), from the use of plant growth-promoting microorganisms, application of organic materials to soil and conservation agriculture (Italy, Croatia and Turkey), to soil modelling and precision agriculture (France, Greece, Croatia), to soil quality and greenhouse gas emissions (France).

sergio saia"The partnership will sample soils from several environments, in different but similar land uses, analysing them for a variety of variables that are already included in the LUCAS database of the European Commission Joint Research Centre, with which it will actively collaborate," explains Professor Saia. The variables measured include chemical, physical and biological soil characteristics, potential greenhouse gas emissions, economic and environmental impacts of the soil use and its management, and remote sensing data. With this information, management models will be proposed to safeguard socio-economic and environmental aspects”.

In parallel, conservation agriculture and other soil improving practises will be studied in the field experiments and on farms, so that their economic and environmental impact will be assessed. Finally, nitrogen cycle conversion from plants to insects (a fundamental component of the soil and element cycle) to the soil and then back to the plants will be studied in controlled devices with isotopic tracers.

Sampling strategies will also be conducted both in accordance with the methodologies of the JRC, which has been sampling European soils every four years since 2009 and with the H2020 project Soil4Africa, which focuses on African soils, to enable the database harmonisation for coherently assessing the quality of Mediterranean soils. The project will also be in collaboration with high school students, producers, policy makers and consumers, in order to provide awareness of the importance of environmental and soil protection, with special reference to agriculture.

An open online session for the project presentation is scheduled on Friday, 7th July, register online at:

  • 6 July 2023

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