One of the key aims of SoilCare is to identify, test and evaluate soil-improving cropping systems (SICS) that will increase the profitability and sustainability of agriculture across Europe.
SoilCare defines soil improving cropping systems as cropping systems that improve soil quality (and hence its functions), and that have positive impacts on the profitability and sustainability of cropping systems. Cropping systems refer to both crop type, crop rotation, and associated agronomic management techniques.
The action of SICS may be brought about through three basic principles or mechanisms:
- changes in input-output ratio’s, including water (irrigation, drainage), nutrients, pesticides, energy, etc
- substitution - substitution of an input or practice by another input or practice (e.g., labour vs machines vs pesticides) and;
- redesign - changes in crop types, crop rotations, tillage, farming systems, and/or market orientation (e.g., specialization vs diversification, commodities vs special niche products, conventional vs organic).
A review of SICS is currently underway and details about SICS will be provided here shortly.