corsus moderated workshop on soil health at Biofach 2024

Yesterday, the workshop “What is healthy soil and can soil health be measured?” took place at the Biofach trade fair congress in Nuremberg. Dr Ulrike Eberle, expert for sustainable food systems, from corsus moderated the workshop.

Kerstin Wortmann from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) welcomed the participants and emphasised the importance of soil health for nutrition. The head of the Environment and Food Division at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) said, among other things, that the BMUV itself is currently working on an amendment to the German Soil Protection Act, which also focuses on healthy soils, and emphasised the benefits of organic farming for soil health.

Moderator Dr Ulrike Eberle gave a brief introduction to the topic of soil health. Why is soil so important? This is partly due to the diverse functions that soil fulfils:

  • Habitat function: Soil is a habitat for animals and plants
  • Regulating function: Soil filters, buffers, stores and transforms water as well as organic and inorganic substances. They are therefore also able to contribute to climate protection by storing carbon in the soil.
  • Production function: Soil is indispensable for the production of food and animal feed as well as renewable raw materials
  • Support function: settlements, transport infrastructure and landfills are built on soil
  • Cultural function: soil is the basis of human history and culture

Mrs Eberle also outlined the parameters proposed as part of the EU Soil Monitoring and Resilience Directive. The law is the central component of the EU Soil Strategy 2030, which aims to ensure that all soil ecosystems in the EU are in a healthy state by 2050. It has supplemented the parameters with the parameters proposed by IG gesunder Boden e.V., which differentiate and supplement some of the parameters.


Matthias Beuger (AöL), Kerstin Wortmann (BMUV), Sigrid Griese (Bioland), Dr. Ulrike Eberle (corsus), Dr. Rolf Sommer (WWF)

The overview was the starting point for the panel discussion, in which Sigrid Griese, responsible for research and development, sustainability and climate protection at Bioland Beratung GmbH, and Dr Rolf Sommer, Head of Agriculture and Land Use Change at WWF Germany, discussed with Kerstin Wortmann what constitutes healthy soil and whether the parameters proposed by the EU are sufficient. Johannes Ehrnsperger, owner and managing director of Neumarkter Lammsbräu, was unfortunately ill and therefore unable to attend. Dr Rolf Sommer pointed out how important functional and resilient soils are for sustainable food systems worldwide. The soil scientist emphasised that soil biology in particular also plays an important role. The organic carbon content of soils is a very meaningful parameter and there are many measures that can positively influence this, such as crop rotation, catch crops or clover grass. Sigrid Griese emphasised that care must always be taken to ensure that proposed measures are also practicable. She emphasised that the vast majority of the organic sector is aware of the importance of soil health, particularly companies that have short supply chains and are close to agricultural production.

Ulrike Schaal from BNN, Matthias Beuger from AöL and Maja-Cathrin Riecher from WWF Germany concluded that the discussion had clearly shown how important it is for food processing companies to focus on soil health and that it was necessary to keep an eye on feasibility.

Ulrike Eberle concluded by thanking Kerstin Wortmann from the BMUV for the introduction and the panellists for the good discussion. She concluded by emphasising once again how important it is to continue driving the topic forward together in order to adequately reflect the achievements of organic farming.

The workshop was organised jointly with WWF Germany and the German Association of Natural Food Products (BNN) and is part of the CLIF – Climate Impacts of Food project.

© Copyright - corsus 2023