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Design of a soil monitoring network for the Basque Country

It is increasingly recognized that soils provide multiple benefits to people, the environment and the economy, and that healthy soils are fundamental for achieving them. Soil functions include providing food, fibre and fuel, decomposing organic matter and recycling nutrients, distributing rainwater, etc. However, the soil resource and the functions it provides are constantly threatened by a wide range of risks at different scales, from local issues such as inadequate management, local pollution and erosion, to global issues such as air pollution and, of course, climate change. Furthermore, it is reasonable to assume that these risks will continue or intensify in the coming decades.

The state of soils needs to be monitored to see how they are changing and to understand the pressures on them. Soil monitoring networks can be described as: “A purpose-built set of sites to document changes in soil characteristics through periodic assessment of a broad set of soil parameters”. The use of custom-built soil monitoring networks is the most effective way to reliably assess temporary changes in soil status at the territorial level. Soil quality monitoring networks have been in operation in many European countries for years; the LURSARE project, funded by IHOBE, aims to fill this gap in the Basque Autonomous Community. In this sense, it is initially proposed to address a design phase of a soil quality monitoring programme, selecting the sampling points, depth(s), sampling frequency, soil properties to be determined, methodologies, etc.

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Effect of biostimulant formulations on soil microbial parameters

We have started a collaboration with the company Ceres-Biotics, which works on the development of biostimulant formulations for agriculture.
Neiker’s work in collaboration with Ceres-Biotics will be to test the effect of different inoculations on soil health, through the measurement of a variety of parameters related to the activity, biomass and diversity of soil microbial communities. General parameters will be measured, but also specific parameters related to the potentiality of the strains under study.

NANORRIZORREM

We are about to start a new experiment on rhizoremediation of contaminated soil. Brassica juncea plants will be grown, under controlled Phytotron conditions, in soil simultaneously contaminated with metals and organic compounds.  Different amendments (chicken manure, horse manure, etc.) will be used to both facilitate plant growth and stimulate the rate of contaminant degradation by rhizosphere microbial communities (i.e., bioremediation through biostimulation). In addition, bacterial strains isolated from the contaminated soil will be initially selected according to their (i) contaminant degradation potential and (ii) plant growth-promoting traits. A consortium of these strains will then be used for bioaugmentation purposes. Finally, apart from the reduction in the concentrations of the target contaminants, we will study the recovery of soil health, using a variety of physicochemical and microbial indicators of soil functioning, as a result of the application of the abovementioned rhizoremediation strategies.

Project about the rational use of antibiotics in livestock

Several groups of Neiker are working on the research project URAGAN, which aims a rational use of antibiotics in livestock. In the case of the Soil Microbial Ecology Group, we are concerned about the potential dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes and mobile genetic elements as a result of the application of animal manure in agricultural soil. In the short term, we plan to establish a pot experiment where we will apply several manures and grow different crops. We will use high-throughput qPCR to simultaneously analyze a great variety of antibiotic resistance genes both in soil and plants. To this purpose, this week we have collected manure and slurry in two dairy farms under organic and intensive management.

Methodology for assessing the effectiveness of Nature Based Solutions

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment (MAPAMA) through the Biodiversity Foundation has granted aid for the NATURADAPT project, where we will continue working on the development of a methodology to assess the effectiveness of Nature Based Solutions for urban adaptation to climate change at different scales. The project will be carried out in collaboration with Tecnalia Research and Innovation, that will model variables related to reduction of temperature and uptake of runoff. Meantime, Neiker will be in charge of measuring carbon capture, as well as plant and soil biodiversity.

 

With the support of

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A new study on the impact of sewage sludge on the dissemination of antibiotic resistance

This week we have started sampling several agricultural soils from Navarra, as part of a new study carried out in collaboration with Sandra Blázquez from EDAR Arazuri (Navarra). In this case, we will study the potential impact of the application of sewage sludge on the presence of antibiotic resistance genes and mobile genetic elements in agricultural soil. To this purpose, we will use high-throughput qPCR to simultaneously analyse a great variety of antibiotic resistance genes. This is a new field for SMEG. Exciting!!

Development of self-sustaining schools in Uganda

We are so happy to tell you that the project about developing agrosustainable schools in Uganda will be financed by Ner Group and Neiker one more year!!

In this link you will find a video-summary of the last visit of Iker Mijangos to Kisimba, Kiyindi Comm., Kiyindi Sda, Maranatha and Tom & Margaret schools: Saluganda 2017

Development of self-sustaining schools:

Helping single mothers with low economic resources:

 

Characterization of urban composts for ecological agriculture

In collaboration with Biolur, Eneek and Karabeleko, we are currently taking part in a project funded by the Basque Government (BERRIKER Programme) on the physicochemical and microbial characterization of urban composts from Gipuzkoa (Basque Country) for their potential use in ecological agriculture. During this project, the agroecological consequences of the utilization of urban composts will be assessed. Finally, different criteria for their application and utilization will be established. Apart from a traditional physicochemical characterization of these urban composts (including the determination of inorganic and organic contaminants), we will determine a variety of parameters that provided information on the biomass, activity and biodiversity of the microbial communities present in the studied composts.

Project NATUR-BIDEAK funded!!

Our project proposal entitled “Nature-based solutions for the ecological regeneration and restoration of urban and periurban areas in Donostia/San Sebastián” (acronym: NATUR-BIDEAK, 2016-2017) has been approved by IHOBE-Ecoinnovation Projects (Basque Government). The project has the following partners: TECNALIA RESEARCH AND INNOVATION and NEIKER-Instituto Vasco de I+D Agrario. This project will help us become familiar with the application of nature-based solutions for the ecological regeneration and restoration of urban and periurban areas. During this project, we will pay special attention to the assessment of biodiversity (belowground: microbial, mesofauna, macrofauna; aboveground: plants and birds) in the restored urban and periurban areas of Donostia/San Sebastián.