What is SoilCare?

European crop production is to remain competitive while reducing environmental impacts, requiring development and uptake of effective soil-improving cropping systems. The overall aim of SOILCARE is to identify and evaluate promising soil improving cropping systems and agronomic techniques increasing profitability and sustainability across scales in Europe. A trans-disciplinary approach will be used to evaluate benefits and drawbacks of a new generation of soil improving cropping systems, incorporating all relevant bio-physical, socio-economic and political aspects.

Approach

Existing information from literature and long term experiments will be analysed to develop a comprehensive methodology for assessing performance of cropping systems at multiple levels. A multi-actor approach will be used to select promising soil-improving cropping systems for scientific evaluation in 16 study sites across Europe covering different pedo-climatic and socio-economic conditions. Implemented cropping systems will be monitored with stakeholder involvement, and will be assessed jointly with scientists. Specific attention will be paid to adoption of soil-improving cropping systems and agronomic techniques within and beyond the study sites.

Upscaling to the European level

Results from study sites will be up-scaled to the European level to draw general lessons about applicability potentials of soil-improving cropping systems and related profitability and sustainability impacts, including assessing barriers for adoption at that scale. An interactive tool will be developed for end-users to identify and prioritize suitable soil-improving cropping systems anywhere in Europe.

SoilCare and policy

Current policies and incentives will be assessed and targeted policy recommendations will be provided. SOILCARE will take an active dissemination approach to achieve impact from local to European level, addressing multiple audiences, to enhance crop production in Europe to remain competitive and sustainable through dedicated soil care.

Project Objectives

In the project plan, a number of project objectives have been formulated (CS = Cropping System)

  • To review which CS can be considered soil-improving, to identify current benefits and drawbacks, and to
    assess current and potential impact on soil quality and environment,
  • To select and trial soil-improving CS in 16 Study Sites across Europe, representing various pedo-climatic zones and socio-economic conditions following a multi-actor approach,
  • To develop and apply an integrated and comprehensive methodology to assess benefits, drawbacks and
    limitations, profitability and sustainability of soil-improving CS in the Study Sites, taking into account pedo-climatic, socio-economic and legislative conditions,
  • To study barriers for adoption and to analyse how farmers can be encouraged through appropriate incentives to adopt suitable soil-improving CS,
  • To develop and apply a method to upscale Study Site results to European level, taking into account different
    pedo-climatic and socio-economic conditions in different parts of Europe, to come up with Europe-wide information on which soil-improving CS would be most beneficial where in Europe,
  • To develop an interactive tool for selection of soil-improving CS throughout Europe,
  • To analyse the effect of agricultural and environmental policies on adoption of CS, and to support these
    policies in order to improve adoption,
  • To disseminate key-information about soil-improving CS including agronomic techniques to all stakeholders.