Soil Health Guards


from 01/01/2024 until 31/12/2025

This citizen science project is distinct in its unique approach of monitoring physical, chemical and biological indicators of soil health. It engages organic and conventional farmers, along with different age groups and educational backgrounds among youth. The participants will employ repeatable, straightforward, standardised, cost-effective methods that are scientifically and/or agronomically relevant, sensitive to short-term changes for soil’s assessment of key indicators, including soil moisture, pH, texture, organic matter decomposition and biodiversity in the agricultural and urban green areas on the territory of Vojvodina Province. Their activities will involve a combination of hands-on fieldwork, burying organic materials like cotton fabric or tea bags in the soil and monitoring their decomposition over time, performance of simple chemical tests and macrofauna surveys, following provided instructions and identification guides and recording their observations in data sheets. Such diverse activities also include educational components, by instigating participants' curiosity and stimulating questions about the mechanisms playing key roles in soil health. The collected data will be subjected to data validation and analysis by the research project team, to ensure accuracy and reliability. Additionally, a certain number of quality-validated samples will be sampled by researchers and analysed using metagenomic sequencing for a more sophisticated, in-depth assessment of soil microbial biodiversity.  Since citizen science is a relatively novel concept in Serbian academic and civic circles, with a lack of structured education on planning and implementation of such initiatives, it is often limited to mere data collection, missing the collaborative and co-creation aspects where citizens actively engage in project design, research questions, and data interpretation. To address this challenge, we plan to actively engage participants in all project phases, starting from collaborative selection of relevant soil indicators for monitoring, training them to perform soil measurements and collect data, but also communicating the results back to citizen scientists and wider local community, including residents, educators, agricultural organisations, environmental NGOs and media organisations to raise awareness and encourage action for sustainable soil management, as well as a sense of shared responsibility for environmental stewardship. Collectively, the project will fill critical gaps in local soil monitoring, contribute to better understanding of soil ecosystems, elucidate the effect of different agricultural practices on soil biodiversity and possibly reach policymakers to advocate for changes in agricultural practices.


The project aims to leverage the essential role of healthy soils for sustainable development at multiple ecological and socio-economic levels. Use of simple, yet standardised and relevant methods for sampling and measurement aims to encourage participants to generate soil data and make indicator-informed conclusions on soil health. Active involvement of both organic and conventional farmers strives to support sustainable agriculture, improve crop yields, and ensure local food security. Engagement of youth from various age groups and educational backgrounds aims to foster awareness of soil ecosystem protection and biodiversity conservation across generations. Ultimately, the project's core objective is to deepen the comprehension of soil health and facilitate collaboration among citizen scientists, local communities, agricultural organisations, and research institutions, all working together to advance sustainability goals in soil health and agriculture.

About funding

Funding bodies: Center for the Promotion of the Science

About branding

Logo design by: Igor Maric

Created June 22, 2024, 12:23 p.m.

Updated June 22, 2024, 12:33 p.m.

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