European crop production is facing the challenge to remain competitive, while at the same time reducing negative environmental impacts. Currently, production levels in some cropping systems are maintained by increased inputs (e.g. nutrients and pesticides) and technology, which masks losses in productivity due to reduced soil quality. Such increased use of agricultural inputs may reduce profitability due to their costs, while also negatively affecting the environment. Soil improvement is necessary to break the negative spiral of degradation, increased inputs, increased costs and damage to the environment.
The overall aim of SoilCare is to assess the potential of soilimproving cropping systems and to identify and test site-specific soil-improving cropping systems that have positive impacts on profitability and sustainability in Europe.
- To review which cropping systems can be considered soilimproving, to identify current benefits and drawbacks, and to assess current and potential impact on soil quality and environment.
- To select and trial soil-improving cropping systems in 16 Study Sites across Europe.
- To develop and apply an integrated methodology to assess benefits and limitations, and profitability and sustainability of soil-improving cropping systems in the Study Sites.
- To study barriers for adoption and to analyse how farmers can be encouraged through appropriate incentives to adopt suitable soil-improving cropping systems.
- To develop and apply a method to upscale Study Site results to European level.
- To develop an interactive tool for selection of soil-improving cropping systems throughout Europe.
- To analyse the effect of agricultural and environmental policies on adoption of cropping systems