Evaluate observable soil structure parameters as soil health indicators

Soils provide a multitude of relevant functions to animal and human well being. Monitoring of soil health is central to protect this non-renewable resource. We evaluate soil structural indicators to include in future EU wide soil policy.

Fiche signalétique

  • Département responsable Haute école des sciences agronomiques, forestières et alimentaires
  • Institut Agronomie
  • Unité de recherche Sols et géoinformation
  • Organisation d'encouragement Europäische Union
  • Durée (prévue) 01.01.2023 - 31.12.2026
  • Responsable du projet Dr. Madlene Nussbaum
  • Direction du projet Dr. Madlene Nussbaum
  • Équipe du projet Niklas Schmücker
    Prof. Dr. Stéphane Burgos
    Dr. Madlene Nussbaum
  • Partenaire Staatssekretariat für Bildung, Forschung und Innovation SBFI
  • Mots-clés soil health, machine learning, soil physics, soil indicators, monitoring


Soils provide a multitude of relevant functions to animal and human well being. However, fulfillment of these functions are increasingly threatened by soil degradation. Relevant indicators to monitor soil health is therefore crucial for policy makers. To tackle soil quality issues EU as launched soil strategy 2023 and soil health research mission.


Aim of the current project is to assess new soil health characteristics and proxies for indicators. Several soil structure attributes like ponding time, characteristic evaporation length or time to reach field capacity are viable candidates to serve as soil health indicators but have to our knowledge not been systematically studied so far. As direct and indirect observation methods exist, it remains unclear how well aforementioned attributes can be approximated by simpler methods. We will directly observe soil structural attributes by computer tomography images, characterize soil hydraulic properties by measuring water retention curves and further use in-situ visual assessments of spade test samples. These different levels of soil structure observation will allow to formulate recommendations towards their usefulness as soil health indicators.

Ce projet contribue aux objectifs de développement durable suivants

  • 2: Lutte contre la faim
  • 15: Protection de la faune et de la flore terrestres