The Soil Toubibs win student challenge “Make all soils healthy again!”

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The Soil Toubibs win student challenge “Make all soils healthy again!”

Gepubliceerd op
3 september 2020

Team The Soil Toubibs is the winner of the challenge “Make all soils healthy again!”. Their idea was chosen as the best during the Challenge Finale on 28 August.

On 28 August, seven student teams walk around in the reception room in Orion on Wageningen Campus, while having a drink and waiting for the Finale of the WUR Student Challenge ‘Make all soils healthy again!’ to commence. Out of 18 interdisciplinary WUR- student teams, 7 teams have handed in their final product and are competing for the prize of € 5.000,-.  

Good stress

Ingeborg Verkleij from team Digging Consciousness is excited. The teams’ idea for healthier soil presents a traveling soil museum, based on interviews with farmers, creating an emotional bond with soils from their own region or backyard. “We worked quite hard on our proposal. We’ll see how it goes” she says smiling. Team Soils Under Pressure, proposing circular urban composting idea, say they feel a bit stressed. “But it’s a good stress” emphasises Aude Prummel “It will be a lot of fun!” adds teammate Thomas Heger.

In the Waaierzaal, with a select group of invitees the organisers and presenters of the day David van den Burg and Johan Bouma welcome to the students and their fans watching at home.

Importance of soil health

On the importance of soil health Rector Magnificus Arthur Mol kicks off by stating “We are facing a number of challenges where it’s not directly evident we will have healthy soils. With climate change and more people having to live on and from soils.”. In a video message minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food quality Carola Schouten states that in 2030 all soils in the Netherlands must be managed sustainably and that healthy soils are pivotal in circular agriculture. that is where the challenge fits perfectly; inspiring the EU missions program ’Soil Health and Food’ for the years 2021-2027, chaired by Prof. Cees Veerman and with Prof. Johan Bouma as member.

Student challenge on soil health

According to the FAO 30% of land in the world is in poor condition due to degradation of soils. If this problem is not tackled in the near future, producing enough food for the world’s population is a serious problem. The EU organizes and finances a research programme in the years 2021-2027 based on five ‘Missions’, one of these missions is ’Soil Health and Food’ chaired by Prof. Cees Veerman and with Prof. Johan Bouma as member. With the WUR student challenge ‘Make all soils healthy again!’ the organisation hopes to get input from young people as they are the future. During the research of the subject and aiding the development of their plans an online event with soil experts was organised.

Healthy soils are extremely important, something the seven remaining teams understand. Though they all have their views on how to tackle the problem, the teams agree upon the importance of closing the gap between scientists, farmers, the general public and policy makers.

The teams have submitted their idea and during the finale we got to see the competitions pitches. Varying from rain gardens by team Top Soil, a magazine to fill the gap in research, innovations, farmers and consumers by HupSoilHub, a holistic approach by Soil Seekers and including society knowledge of soil health in the assessment of the soil by the authorities by TERRApists.

Serious game wins

The winning team The Soil Toubibs want to build a strong narrative on soil health where robust and resilient soil, independence from the crutches and multifunctionality play important roles. Morgane van Dam van Corentin Bisot present a soil version of the successful French ‘climate collage’ making climate information more accessible to the public via a card game. The cards of this serious game were developed jointly with the Rietveld academy in Amsterdam.

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Upon winning Morgane states “We want to keep going with the idea. It’s nice you found our idea cool and gives us energy to keep going so we can give workshops. Hopefully, we can do it in Wageningen in the future.”

Jury report

Gita Maas (Ministry I&W) was part of the jury with em. prof. Johan Bouma and David van den Burg. She is excited about the variety of innovative ideas applicable now and in the future. The teams also focussed on subsidies and financing which is worth a consideration from the ministry point of view. What else Gita and Johan had to say and why the Soil Toubibs became winners you can read in the jury report.

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Watch the pitches of the teams

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