Expertise & research centre in Plant-Soil Health

The Expertise & research centre in Plant-Soil Health focusses on the interaction between plant and soil, with the main focus on the interaction between soil biology and the plant, and how this interaction can be used to make the soil healthier and more sustainable. It is the first ERC located at the HAS University of Applied Sciences Venlo campus and will run until 2022. It is based on a close collaboration between HAS University of Applied Sciences and the Limburgse Land- en Tuinbouwbond (LLTB) (the Limburg agriculture and horticulture association). Both the LLTB and the Province of North Brabant are financially involved in the position.

Healthy soil

Healthy soil is the foundation for ecological stability and, therefore, for sustainable crop production. Healthy and fertile soil also contributes in the battle against the greenhouse effect and in addressing the challenge to provide enough healthy food for a growing global population without disturbing the environment and the balance in ecosystems.

Lines of research

The new ERC will carry out applied research within the following lines of research:

  • Using the plant to improve the soil: research into how soil biology can be applied as a new fertilising strategy and applying new cultivations or mixed cultivations to improve soil quality.
  • Using the soil to improve the plant: research into how soil biology can be applied to increase plant resilience in crops to reduce the use of herbicides, pesticides and insecticides.
  • Adjusting the crop according to soil problems: Research into how soil biology can be applied to increase the crop’s resilience to particular soil problems (acidification, salination, water saturation, compaction, water shortage, exhaustion of nutrients, loss of soil diversity, sealing, pollution and over fertilisation (eutrophication).

Financial support

The LLTB will finance part of the estimated costs for the duration of the ERC. The LLTB works with and for its members to achieve a healthy and sustainable soil. Applied research plays an important role in this. The Province of North Brabant will also contribute €300,000. In light of the challenges the province is facing with respect to nature, water and the environment, it is beneficial for the province to encourage educational establishments, such as HAS University of Applied Sciences to include sustainable soil management in their programmes. Thanks to their financial support, the province is also contributing to large-scale knowledge exchange regarding sustainable soil management.