The ReCon Soil project

The ReCon Soil project has a total budget of €2.5m, of which €1.8m is funded by the European Regional Development Fund via the Interreg France (Channel) England (FCE) Programme.

Interreg France (Channel) England (FCE) is an EU programme set up to foster economic development in the south of the UK and north of France by funding innovative projects which have a sustainable and economic benefit.

It focuses on a range of specific objectives including supporting innovation, improving the attractiveness of the FCE area and developing low carbon technologies.

More information: www.channelmanche.com

Healthy soil is at the heart of agriculture and in maintaining quality food production. Soil is also the largest carbon store on earth, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change and preserve biodiversity.

Yet industry is paying over to £3billion per annum to dispose of waste soil from building sites across the UK and France, while food security and agricultural sustainability remain two of the great global challenges of the 21st century. The construction industry wants to find new ways to reuse waste soils safely, especially where it contributes to reduced carbon emissions and acts as a low carbon technology.

The ReCon Soil project

ReCon Soil brings together scientists, industry and educators to revolutionise how waste material from construction projects is managed.

They will develop and roll out at least three new soil recipes made from locally-sourced construction waste, dredged sediments and agricultural by-products.

These recipes will be thoroughly investigated in laboratories in Plymouth, and then at sites in the UK and France, to monitor their effectiveness and potential environmental impact.


The data from those studies will then be incorporated into blueprints detailing when and where the soils can be deployed, and any amendments needed to ensure their effective deployment. It will also establish five new low-carbon technology networks – with members from the construction, agricultural, conservation, and public sectors – and train 200 workers, helping to take reconstructed soils from research to commercialisation.

The project will also explore the current policy barriers and regulatory impediments that would need to be addressed for the practice to be rolled out right across the construction sector.

University staff involved in the project

<p>FABsoil <br></p>
<p>Plants growing in FABSOIL</p>
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FABSoil

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Soil research at the University

The University is home to world-leading researchers in various aspects of soil research. Working with partners including the world-famous Eden Project, it has over a decade of expertise in the design and manufacture of reconstructed soils. This includes measuring the effectiveness of soil recipes and the nutrients that need adding to ensure optimum mixes and working with industry and agriculture to ensure they are fit for purpose.

It has also led internationally significant research in Europe, Africa and South America looking at the causes and effects of soil degradation. That research has suggested that an interdisciplinary approach – which includes engaging local communities – is the only way to secure real and lasting change and avoid such devastating impacts on traditional farming landscapes.

<p>Farmer walking on infertile soil</p>
<p>The project brings together scientists and Maasai people to find ways to overcome soil erosion challenges<br></p>
<p>Will Blake</p>