Meet the winners of the Mission Soil photo competition

Wednesday, 10 July 2024

The winners for the Mission Soil photo competition were announced during the European Mission Soil Week in Madrid (Spain). The competition inspired over 50 people to show us their love for soil in their beautiful photos with soil as the protagonist. Read on to learn more about who the three winners and nine runners up are.

Raising awareness through art

Open to anyone 18 or older, the competition, which ran from 1 September to 8 October 2023, engaged people of different levels of skill and experience in photography: from budding photographers to those experienced with a camera, all were welcome to submit a photo of what soil means to them.

The competition cultivated and reflected people’s passion for soils, their protection and restoration. Every single photo captured a piece of the beauty, complexity and importance of soil. The competition supported one of the objectives of the Mission Soil: the enhancing of soil literacy and citizen engagement across Europe for the sustainable management and restoration of soils.

Meet the winners

‘Treasure under our feet’, Dominika Koszowska (Poland). Capturing the beauty of soil as a treasure with a focus on the contrast between plant greenery and soil brown.

‘Flowering vineyard soil’, Sergio Ibáñez Pascual (Spain). Highlighting the role of soil as the foundation of all life, emphasising cover crops for soil management, biodiversity promotion, and erosion prevention.

‘Desperate for life’, Božidar Grgošić (Croatia). Presenting a photo taken after river floods, symbolising the soil's need for attention and recovery.

The prizes

Each of the three winners received a wooden ‘VAIA Cube’ speaker – which blends nature, artistry, and technology. The speaker is made from wood retrieved from trees felled during storm Vaia, which destroyed 42 million trees in October 2018 in the Dolomites in northeast Italy. Wood recovered from these trees is broken in irregular ways. Thus, each speaker is unique and symbolises that harmony with nature is possible by combining environmental, economic and social sustainability, a perfect prize for the winners of the competition whose photos invite us to look down and appreciate the soil under our feet.

The winners were presented by Carmen Vela Olmo, Director of Collaborative Projects at Gold Standard Diagnostics, and Diego Canga Fano, Director of Quality Policy, Research & Innovation, Outreach at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development.

From left to right: Carmen Vela Olmo, Božidar Grgošić, Dominika Koszowska, Sergio Ibáñez Pascual, Diego Canga Fano

Meet the runners up

The remaining nine winners were (top left to bottom right): Félix González Peñaloza (Spain) with ‘Holm oak surviving in red soil at Cerro del Hierro’; Marcin Świtoniak (Poland) with ‘Colours of erosion’; Cristina Mancini (Italy) with ‘Let’s save this land!’; Eric Lucot (France) with ‘Glacial memories of a soil’; Diana Joca (Romania) with ‘Connected’; Jacek Cislo (Poland) with ‘Soil is the living organism of the earth’; Eniko Kelemen-Zobor (Hungary) with ‘Forest’; Mariya Maslova (Croatia) with ‘The soil under the 1,500 year old olive tree in Croatia’; Knud Bay Smidt (Denmark) with ‘Soil for Generations’.

The nine winners received a gardening kit with Mission Soil branded gloves and a Mission Soil calendar featuring their photos.

All photos were displayed in an exhibition during the European Mission Soil Week