The Soil Science Institute of Thessaloniki was founded in 1950. It is one of the National Agricultural Research Foundation (NAGREF) Institutes, which is a non-profit research organization, supervised by the Ministry of Rural Development and Food (MRDF), and governed by its own Management Board and Scientific Committee. During the nearly 60 years of its operation SSI oriented its research and activities to timely and urgent subjects under the prevailing economic conditions and the European and National legislative Acts and Directives regarding the environment and management of soil.
The work that has been done and is being currently conducted by the Institute may be divided in the following categories; a. research work, b. technical assistance, c. training and dissemination of knowledge.
The main objectives of the SSI are related to agricultural and environmental issues. The agricultural research section of the SSI includes soil and plant studies and also a software development. The software is a user friendly digital interface designed to be used by the local agronomists and includes several components, such as geographic data (e.g. orthophotos, fields with their attributes, etc), data from the Soil Map studies and a fertilization advisory module. By one “click” on a field parcel the local agronomist can have immediate access to a wide range of soil information and then print a soil analysis pdf file, along with recommendation for sound fertilization of suggested field crops. This software is already run in the regional unit of Kastoria, which is part of the West Macedonia region in Greece.
The environmental research section of the SSI includes studies on water and soil pollution, wastewater treatment and irrigation reuse. Specifically, a research project in “Gallikos” with regards to natural wastewater treatment and reuse was completed with success and thereafter, many similar applications in small communities were designed by the research team of SSI and constructed. Lemnos Island is one of these communities which operates natural systems of wastewater treatment and received for this action an honorable distinction on “Innovative- ecological practice of intermediate range” by a scientific committee during a European Program for promoting innovative policy on occupation, 2003. SSI was also honored with the First award on “Best initiatives on water resources management” by the Water & Sewerage Company of Athens, 2000.
A well equipped laboratory for physical and chemical soil, water and wastewater analysis, and also for plant tissues, has been established at the Institute.Recommendations for sound fertilization are provided to farmers or agencies, based on the soil analysis taking place at the SSI lab.
SSI members have participated in the research team of NAGREF for the compilation of Action Plans (AP) and a Code for Good Agricultural Practice (COGAP) for the declared vulnerable basins of Greece to groundwater nitrate pollution of agricultural origin, in accordance to Directive 676/1991/EEC. Researchers of the Institute also participate as scientific advisors in the permanent Committee of the Region of Central Macedonia on the implementation of aforementioned Action Plans, in accordance to the National Legislation and the European Directive. Research team of SSI was actively involved in competitive European projects (INTERREG II, EPET II e.t.c.) and national as well.