BIOdiversity of soils and FArming Innovations for improved Resilience in European wheat agrosystems

01/04/2021 – 30/03/2024

Total Grant

€ 1,469,380

More information

Dr Pierre Delaplace

Dr Cécile Thonar

Partners of the project

Coordinator: Plant Sciences – Liège University Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech – Gembloux – Belgium

FiBL Europe – Brussels – Belgium

Functional Plant Biology – Ghent University – Ghent – Belgium

Genetic, Diversity and Ecophysiology of Cereals (GDEC) – INRAE/ University of Clermont Auvergne – Clermont-Ferrand – France

Nutritional Crop Physiology – Hohenheim University, Institut für Kulturpflanzenwissenschaften – Stuttgart – Germany

Functional and Evolutionary Ecology – Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas – CSIC – Almería – Spain

Soil Sciences – FiBL Switzerland – Frick – Switzerland


In the face of climate change, crop species and agricultural practices will require adaptation to produce high quality food while reducing the impact of agriculture on the environment. The study of mechanisms underlying the anticipated negative impact of climate change on food production thus needs all the attention in order to design cropping systems resilient to climate change. To date, most of the climate change studies have been focused on the plant physiology without addressing key questions linked to root and soil diversity and functioning under fully realistic anticipated climatic scenarios.

Main objectives

BIOFAIR’s main goal is to assess the impacts of climate change and innovative farming practices on plant productivity, nutritional quality and fitness. A strong focus will be given on the study of soil functioning and the related soil microbiome as well as micro- and meso-fauna biodiversity. This will allow a better understanding of the reported changes in productivity, quality value of the cereal grains and the suppressiveness capacity of such soils against (a)biotic stresses.

Main activities

BIOFAIR is based on a co-creation process of the experiments with a relevant EU stakeholder board to be consulted before, during and after the development of the experiments. Practically, experiments in cutting-edge Ecotrons as well as long- term field trials in which abiotic stress and innovative farming practices are tested will be performed with wheat to:
• Measure the impact of climate change on crop growth kinetics, yield and quality traits with a focus on grain nutritional and technological quality.
• Identify soil taxa clearly impacted by climate change and whose functions are directly or indirectly linked to nutrient use efficiency, disease resistance and crop quality traits.
• Assess and characterise farming innovations that enhance the prevalence of beneficial taxa vs pathogenic ones and the production of healthy and nutritious wheat grains.
• Provide recommendations that target farming practices enabling quality wheat production together with soil biodiversity and ecosystem services conservation under predicted climate change.
The project outcomes will provide the basis for the development of future ecologically intensive crop management strategies maximising resource use efficiency and production of quality traits linked to human health and nutrition, in the context of climate change. The BIOFAIR project will therefore directly contribute to policies related to key areas for European citizens: food security and industry, human health, sustainable consumption and production patterns, mitigation of climate change impacts and protection of terrestrial ecosystems. It will aim at actively feeding the political processes at EU and national level by effectively disseminating the project results to the most relevant public and private stakeholders with interest in the field. These include policy makers (e.g. DG AGRI, DG SANTE, DG ENV, EIP-AGRI), private and industrial stakeholders (e.g. COPA- COGECA, EBIC, European Flour Millers, etc) as well as EU administrators in charge of developing the Soil Health and Food Missions of the “Horizon Europe” program.