Every time has its challenges. At present, this is probably climate change and, very topically, the Covid 19 crisis. Both of these issues require understanding of every citizen in order to take effective actions that will bring about positive changes in the short, medium or long term.

Healthy soil with its ability to store carbon and to produce food at the same time is a symbol for a good, future-oriented life - but it is still threatening worldwide and also in Lower Austria overused, little valued, not really present in the consciousness of the general public.

Earth colours extracted directly from the soil - natural colour pigments as they used for thousands of years - can contribute to a deepening and improvement of soil awareness. More than 100,000 people, especially children and young people from Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia have worked with soil paints from Lower Austria from 2008 to 2014, painted in creative competitions and at information booths and thus also found more connection to "their soil".

As part of the Lower Austrian soil campaign "unser Boden - wir stehen drauf" (our soil - we stand on it), soil paints from Lower Austrian soil were obtained in 2008 and used with great enthusiasm in educational institutions. The Lower Austrian campaign and the following EU projects with partners from Austria and neighbouring countries were very successful.

Through the ERDKomm project, 100kg of soil colours could be recovered again for further use. In addition, the working group of the European Union "EU Missionboard for soil health and food" has expressed interest in soil colours as an instrument for soil awareness and an intensive exchange took place in the context of the ARGE DL meeting 2020 and 2021.

Furthermore, the know-how from production and application was prepared for future users from all over Europe and passed on in 2 workshops. With the UFT in Tulln, a top-class location for the theory and practice of earth colour science could also be established.


The following measures have been implemented:

A) Production of new earth colours for use in Lower Austria.

5 regionally typical Lower Austrian earth colours were produced in each case in the version pigment + structure material.

For this purpose, the extraction sites were determined according to the Lower Austrian soil map and coordinated with the landowners, appropriate soil material was extracted and 20 kg of each colour was produced. The majority of the colour pigments and the structural material is stored accordingly in tubs. For demonstration purposes and for presentation to workshop participants, the colours were filled into jars and put together in an attractive felt bag.

Furthermore, a description booklet on the Lower Austrian soil colours was prepared.
In the so-called "soil stories" the regions of extraction and soil-specific aspects are explained in more detail.


B) Adaptation of the know-how for the production of earth colours as a basis for an EU campaign

All information was prepared for a possible EU-wide application and made available to the EU Missionboard for soil health and food or discussed personally in the context of the ARGE DL meetings.

Furthermore, a training concept for the education of communicators was developed and two test workshops were held.


Downloadlink: Soil stories of the Lower Austrian earth colours (pdf in German)
Downloadlink: Painting techniques folder (pdf in Geman)


Below some impressions of the project: