Research Action Network for Reducing Reactive Nitrogen Losses from Agricultural Ecosystems

Twinning Horizon Europe Framework Programme

 

Globally, 50-70% of the N fertilizer applied to cropping systems is lost as nitrate and N-oxides, raising agricultural production costs and contributing to pollution and climate change. These losses are directly linked to the nitrification process catalysed by soil nitrifying microbes. The mitigation of reactive nitrogen (Nr) loss via nitrification inhibitors (NIs) is a promising solution for increasing N use efficiency (NUE) in agriculture.

ACTIONr aims to unravel the scientific excellence and innovation potential of a Widening country (Greece), through a European network of excellence on establishing novel tools and pathways for optimized NUE, reducing the continued acceleration of the N cycle, and decreasing the environmental footprint of Nr.

As a centre for Greek agricultural production, Thessaly is suited to serve as a model for research on microbial N transformations for optimizing NUE in agroecosystems, but local capacity is not fully explored yet. Twinning of UTH with two internationally leading partners in Ecogenomics (UNIVIE) and Microbial Ecology (ECL) of the soil N cycle will: (i) further develop research excellence of UTH, (ii) improve its networking efficiency and interdisciplinarity, and (iii) have broad societal and environmental impact towards more efficient N management in agricultural settings.

These objectives will be achieved through the implementation of a well-designed plan of training, networking, and dissemination/communication activities, including staff exchanges, on-site training, summer schools and symposia, working groups on protocol unification, integrated PhD programs, and outreach events directed towards potential stakeholders and local communities. The expected impacts include an increase in scientific output and capacity building of UTH, the integration of sustainable N-fertilization strategies at EU level in compliance with SDG (e.g., SDG13 and 15), and the stimulation of public awareness on agri-environmental issues.

 

Duration: 01.11.2022-31.10.2025

Funding agency: Horizon 2020 Twinning: 101079299

Project leader: Prof. Christa Schleper

Participants: Logan Hodgskiss