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NRP 68 aims to improve our knowledge about the quality of soils, develop tools for their assessment and elaborate strategies for their sustainable use.

The sustainable use of soil and its many services represent a great challenge to society. Soil is a scarce and practically non-renewable resource. It has many functions from producing food to serving as construction sites. Soil functions include:

  • Production functions: e.g. soil fertility
  • Habitat functions: e.g. habitat for soil micro-organisms (biodiversity)
  • Regulating functions: e.g. regulation of nutrient and hydrological cycles, carbon sink
  • Archive functions: e.g. preservation of cultural heritage
  • Engineering functions: e.g. platform for buildings and infrastructures.
  • Raw material functions: e.g. source of gravel and rare earth

NRP 68 aims to establish the principles for the sustainable use of soil in Switzerland. For this purpose, both the ecological and the economic services of soil need to be considered. The concept of ecosystem services provides an opportunity to link soil functions and their value to human well-being.

The programme pursues three main targets:

  • Improving our knowledge about soil systems;
  • Developing tools for assessing soil as a resource;
  • Devising concepts for a sustainable use of soil.

NRP 68 is operating with an overall budget of CHF 13 million and will run for 5 years. Additionally, CHF 4 million is earmarked for European projects: it is to be shared between NRP 68 and NRP 69 "Healthy nutrition and sustainable food production" for projects participating in calls of the European Joint Programming Initiatives "Agriculture, food security and climate change" (FACCE - JPI) and "A healthy diet for a healthy life" (HDHL - JPI).

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