Soilcare for profitable and sustainable crop production in Europe (SoilCare)

SoilCare soil quality assessment
Pit dug into arable land in Belgium, showing the difference in organic matter content between topsoil and subsoil. Photo: G. Schwilch, CDE
  • European crop production must remain competitive while reducing its environmental impacts
  • This requires development and uptake of effective soil-improving cropping systems
  • Implemented cropping systems must be monitored with stakeholder involvement and assessed jointly with scientists

Background

The overall aim of SoilCare is to identify and evaluate promising soil-improving cropping systems and agronomic techniques to increase both profitability and sustainability across scales in Europe. A transdisciplinary approach will be used to evaluate the pros and cons of a new generation of soil-improving cropping systems, including all relevant biophysical, socio-economic, and political indicators.

Methods

Existing information will be analysed to develop a comprehensive methodology for assessing the performance of cropping systems. A multi-actor approach will be used to select promising soil-improving cropping systems for scientific evaluation in 16 study sites across Europe. Particular attention will be paid to adoption of soil-improving cropping systems and agronomic techniques within and beyond the study sites.

Summary of results

CDE’s main role is to develop and apply an integrated, comprehensive methodology to assess the benefits, drawbacks, limitations, profitability, and sustainability of soil-improving cropping systems in the study sites, taking into account pedo-climatic, socio-economic, and legal conditions. CDE is also analysing a study site in Frauenfeld, Switzerland, in close collaboration with Agroscope.

Institutional setting

Project coordinator: Dr. Rudi Hessel, Wageningen Environmental Research (Alterra). Twenty-eight project partners across Europe. Funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation.

Project duration: March 2016 – February 2021