Soil-Improving Cropping Systems for Sustainable and Profitable Farming in Europe

Rudi Hessel*, Guido Wyseure, Ioanna S. Panagea, Abdallah Alaoui, Mark S. Reed, Hedwig van Delden, Melanie Muro, Jane Mills, Oene Oenema, Francisco Areal, Erik van den Elsen, Simone Verzandvoort, Falentijn Assinck, Annemie Elsen, Jerzy Lipiec, Aristeidis Koutroulis, Lilian O’Sullivan, Martin A. Bolinder, Luuk Fleskens, Ellen KandelerLuca Montanarella, Marius Heinen, Zoltan Toth, Moritz Hallama, Julián Cuevas, Jantiene E. M. Baartman, Ilaria Piccoli, Tommy Dalgaard, Jannes Stolte, Jasmine E. Black, Charlotte-Anne Chivers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


Soils form the basis for agricultural production and other ecosystem services, and soil management should aim at improving their quality and resilience. Within the SoilCare project, the concept of soil-improving cropping systems (SICS) was developed as a holistic approach to facilitate the adoption of soil management that is sustainable and profitable. SICS selected with stakeholders were monitored and evaluated for environmental, sociocultural, and economic effects to determine profitability and sustainability. Monitoring results were upscaled to European level using modelling and Europe-wide data, and a mapping tool was developed to assist in selection of appropriate SICS across Europe. Furthermore, biophysical, sociocultural, economic, and policy reasons for (non)adoption were studied. Results at the plot/farm scale showed a small positive impact of SICS on environment and soil, no effect on sustainability, and small negative impacts on economic and sociocultural dimensions. Modelling showed that different SICS had different impacts across Europe—indicating the importance of understanding local dynamics in Europe-wide assessments. Work on adoption of SICS confirmed the role economic considerations play in the uptake of SICS, but also highlighted social factors such as trust. The project’s results underlined the need for policies that support and enable a transition to more sustainable agricultural practices in a coherent way.
Original languageEnglish
Article number780
Pages (from-to)e780
Issue number6
Early online date25 May 2022
Publication statusFirst published - 25 May 2022


  • soil quality
  • sustainable soil management
  • adoption
  • crop management
  • environmental dimension
  • sociocultural dimension
  • economic dimension


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