Jane Mills - WP8

Jane Mills - WP8

Friday, 26 April 2019 10:28

New SoilCare Films

SoilCarefilmA new SoilCare film has been released. The 13 minute film provides an overview of the SoilCare project. It opens by explaining the importance of soil-improving cropping systems (SICS) and then visits some of the SoilCare study sites around Europe. In particular, the film focuses on the trials conducted in the Belgium study site and also the experiences of a Danish organic farmer who is working with SoilCare to reduce his reliance on ploughing.

The film can be viewed using the link below and is currently available in English, Danish, Dutch and Greek. Other languages will be available shortly.

Another film has been produced that provides a description of the study site in Denmark and can be viewed here. 


SoilCare study site Denmark presentation from Soil Physics & Land Use PROJECTS on Vimeo.

Each issue of the SoilCare newsletter focuses on soil threat-specific SICS. In this newsletter the focus is on organic matter decline-specific SICS.

Decline of soil organic matter (SOM) refers to a loss of organic matter mass (and quality) in soils over time, which may lead to a deterioration of soil structure, a loss of water and nutrient retention and biological activity, and in the end to a reduction in crop productivity and water and nutrient use efficiency. Land use change (from forest and pastures to arable land) and intensive soil cultivation are major causes of a loss of soil organic matter. There is some evidence that climate change also contributes to a decline in SOM.

The SoilCare review of SICS (see Newsletter 2) has identified SICS that prevent organic matter decline. These SICS relate to measures that decrease mineralization of soil organic matter and/or increase inputs of organic matter. Organic matter-specific SICS may involve 3 mechanisms: (i) changes in inputs, (ii) substitution, and (iii) redesign. 

 The first mechanism relates to (increased) inputs of compost, crop residues, and animal manures. The second mechanism involves PerennialWheatreduced soil tillage, direct seeding in untilled soil instead of intensive soil cultivation, and controlled drainage. The third mechanism involves the growth of crops with large biomass production and a relatively low harvest index, straw and crop residues return to soil, and the growth of perennial crops, cover crops, leys and green manures.

The most promising organic matter-specific SICS have been identified as:

- reducing net soil organic matter mineralization (minimal tillage, drainage)

- enhancing the organic matter input into the soil (through crop residues, manures, composts) (see the Table).



  Components of cropping system  Components of organic matter decline-specific SICS  Change in profitability
 Crop rotation

 Deep-rooting crops and/or

+ large % cereals in rotation

+ cover crops, green manures

 Nutrient management  Application of manure and compost +/-
C  Irrigation management  optimal  
 Drainage management  Reduced drainage of organic-rich soils and peat soils -
E  Tillage management  Reduced tillage +/-
F  Pest management  optimal  
G  Weed management  optimal  
H Residue management Residue return -/+
J Mechanization management optimal  


For more information about these different SICS, please visit the SoilCare page on SICS 

Thursday, 25 April 2019 15:28

Project Leaflets

SoilCare Project Introductory Leaflets

The SoilCare project introductory leaflet provides details of the aims and objectives of the project and the partners involved.  The leaflet is available in 15 languages.


Soil Management Mistakes Booklet

The booklet, titled, "10 common practices and their harmful impact on soil" aims to help with 10 common problems that often happen on farm. The booklet is available in FrenchSpanish, Greek, Polish and English. More languages are to follow soon. 


Soil Threat-Specific SICS Fact Sheets

A series of fact sheets are being produced that provide an overview of promising crop types and management techniques for
addressing specific soil threats: 

SICS for Erosion

Thursday, 25 April 2019 09:07

New Report: Review of Soil Advice

Front coverThe need to provide appropriate information, advice and support to land managers about sustainable soil management is increasingly recognised at the international, European and national levels. Advice to farmers concerning soil management is complex as it can cover a number of topics, address a number of objectives, and be delivered by different providers using varying approaches, methods, tools. This diverse soil advice landscape reflects a context where farmers are having to deliver both marketable and environmental public goods combined with a typically diverse and fragmented advice landscape whereby farmers are influenced by multiple priorities, interests and people (environmental, agronomic, innovation, technological, food assurance etc).

A new SoilCare report, available HERE, considers these multiple contextual factors when reviewing and assessing the effectiveness of advice about soil-improving cropping systems (SICS).

The review is structured around 5 key issues:

  • soil management topics already being supported with advice
  • advisory services and how farmers currently obtain information about soil management
  • gaps in advice and dissemination
  • examples of effective advice/best practice
  • key principles for effective knowledge exchange of SICS

Both European and national support and advice is reviewed with particular reference to the SoilCare study site countries where information is available. As there are few/no academic papers that specifically examine advice for soil– the review draws on papers and reports that consider:

  1. advice and information in the context of adoption of broader best management practices (BMP);
  2. advice as it relates to policy measures relevant to soil in European countries, concerning all aspects of soil management in arable agriculture i.e. not just SICS;
  3. advisory systems and services in European countries primarily referring to the EU Proakis project
  4. recent relevant research and reviews conducted in the EU funded projects such as RECARE and SmartSOIL. The policy review conducted in WP7 (Deliverable 7.1) complements this assessment of the advice landscape for soil.

Drawing on the review, the report concludes with some key principles for advice and dissemination on SICS, structured around the three main elements of the dissemination strategy: the message (the what), the methods (the how) and the audience (the who).  These principles are summarised below with more detail provided in the report.

The Message (what)

  • Does the land manager want to use the information and can they?
  • Does it clash with other advice?
  • Are there opportunities to link it to other advice?
  • Does it fit with compliance and standards for AEM contracts?
  • Is it limited by meeting cross compliance regulations?
  • Is it holistic advice – several SICS combined across the farm?
  • Emphasise SICS principles, not prescriptions
  • How big is the change on farm - and is long-term support needed?
  • Is the advice clear and were the principles and language used understood?
  • Discuss trade-offs and short-term losses, as well as assurances of long-term benefits

The Methods (how) 

  • What differences are there between advisory service quality and capacity?
  • Do these services need training in SICS?
  • What viewpoints may advisors bring to SICS explanations? How does this sit within the wider advisory landscape?
  • Who does the land manager trust and not trust in giving sound advice?
  • Does advice need to be farm-specific, or broader?
  • Are events or one-one conversations best?

The Audience (who)

  • Do land managers need training in SICS application?
  • Is there anyone trained in SICS to give advice and training?
  • Land managers may vary from small-holders to commercial farms with varying tenures, control over decisions and environmental commitment
  • Some land managers may want to see case studies of SICS in practice, others research evidence behind them
  • The same messages can be understood differently depending on the land manager
  • How tailored can you make the advice depending upon the scale (local – regional / national)?
  • Advice needs to be focused on farm business but set within the context of other influences

The review has also helped to inform a recent paper Are advisory services ‘fit for purpose’ to support sustainable soil management? A review of advisory capacity in Europe published in a Special Issue of Soil Use and Management “Soil information‐sharing and knowledge building for sustainable soil use and management: insights and implications for the 21st century”.

For more details about the report, please contact Julie Ingram, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Tuesday, 26 March 2019 16:32

Related Projects




The SPRINT-project, which commenced in September 2020, aims to develop a Global Health Risk Assessment Toolbox to assess impacts of Plant Protection Products (PPPs) on environment and human health by conducting case studies across Europe and in Argentina. 

ReNu2Farm | Biorefine


The ReNu2Farm project is designed to increase the recycling rates for the plant nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in the primary food production chain in Northwest Europe (NWE). The project strives for an exchange of nutrients between the following countries: IE-UK, DE-NL and BE-FR. In each of these areas there are regions with nutrient shortages and surpluses. Nutrient-surplus regions in NWE include the Netherlands, Flanders (Belgium), Bretagne (France) and Ireland. The regions that have great potential to replace artificial fertilisers, due to their high use thereof, are located in Northern France, Wallonia (Belgium), the East of England and Ireland.



Best4Soil are building a community of practice network across Europe by inter-connecting growers, advisers, educators and researchers. This network promotes knowledge ready for practice on 4 best practices (compost, green manure, anaerobic disinfestation, (bio) solarisation) for the control of soil-borne diseases. 


The Soil Carbon Project is an innovative project that aims to help farmers manage soils in a more sustainable and profitable way.

The project will concentrate on three main strands:

  • Investigating a methodology that could be used to test for soil organic matter and carbon
  • Learning more about the impact of farming management practices on soil health
  • Financial modelling to understand how a potential government payment system for protecting or improving soil health and carbon sequestration might work

My WordPress Blog



Excalibur plans to enhance the knowledge on soil biodiversity dynamics and its synergistic effects with prebiotic and probiotic approaches in horticulture, using a multi-actor approach. To pursue this aim, new multifunctional soil microbial inoculants (bio-inocula) and bio-effectors will be tested on three model crops of economic importance (tomato, apple, strawberry) under different experimental and open-field conditions across Europe, and the feed-feedback effect of/on native biodiversity monitored. In order to go beyond the multitude of studies on the links between soil biodiversity and plant health, Excalibur will develop a comprehensive strategy of soil management improving the effectiveness of biocontrol and bio fertilization practices in agriculture.





The aim of the DIVERFARMING project is to  develop and test different diversified cropping systems (rotations, multiple cropping and intercrops for food, feed and industrial products) under low-input practices, for conventional and organic systems for field case studies to increase land productivity and crops quality, and reduce machinery, fertilisers, pesticides, energy and water demands.






The overall goal of DiverIMPACTS - Diversification through Rotation, Intercropping, Multiple Cropping, Promoted with Actors and value-Chains towards Sustainability - is to achieve the full potential of diversification of cropping systems for improved productivity, delivery of ecosystem services and resource-efficient and sustainable value chains.

DiverIMPACTS has 34 partners and is coordinated by INRA, the French National Institute for Agricultural Research. CRA-W, Belgium, acts as deputy coordinator.





 The four year Horizon 2020-funded DIVERSify project (2017-2021) aims to optimise the performance of crop species mixtures or ‘plant teams’ to improve yield stability, reduce pest and disease damage, and enhance stress resilience in agricultural systems. It focuses on improving the productivity and sustainability of European agriculture using an approach that has global relevance, learning from the experience of international researchers and stakeholders.




Increasingly, soil is recognized as a non-renewable resource because, once degraded, the restoration of its productivity is an extremely slow process. Given the importance of soils for crop and livestock production as well as for providing wider ecosystem services for local and global societies, maintaining the land in good condition is of vital importance. To manage the use of agricultural soils well, decision-makers need science-based, easy to apply and cost-effective tools to assess soil quality and function.

The most important aims the iSqaper project will work on are to: Integrate existing soil quality related information; Synthesize the evidence for agricultural management effects provided by long-term field trials; Derive and identify innovative soil quality indicators that can be integrated into an easy-to-use interactive soil quality assessment tool; Develop, with input from a variety of stakeholders, a multilingual Soil Quality Application (SQAPP) for in-field soil quality assessment and monitoring; Test, refine, and roll out SQAPP across Europe and China as a new standard for holistic assessment of agricultural soil quality; Use a trans-disciplinary, multi-actor approach to validate and support SQAPP.





 LANDMARK is a European Research Project on the sustainable management of land and soil in Europe. The questions that LANDMARK aims to address are: “How can we make the most of our land? How can we ensure that our soils deliver on the many expectations we have of our land?”

LANDMARK is a pan-European multi-actor consortium of 22 partner institutes from 14 EU countries plus Switzerland, China and Brazil. These include universities, applied research institutes, Chambers of Agriculture, an SME and the European Commission that will develop a coherent framework for soil management aimed at sustainable food production across Europe. Landmark is led by Wageningen University and Research (WUR) and is supported by a series of organizations being part of our Stakeholder Steering Committee ( FAO, COPA-COGECA, EFI, EUFRAS, DG-AGRI, DG-ENV, EMBRAPA, EFSA, EEA, EIONET, etc.)



The goal of LEGVALUE is to pave the road to develop sustainable and competitive legume-based farming systems and agri-feed and food chains in the EU. To this end, the project will assess both the economic and environmental benefits for the EU agro industry to widely produce and use legumes in a sustainable manner. Using a list of 20 value chains reflecting the market diversity, and a list of 20 farm networks covering the diversity of grain legumes and fodder legumes species.

RECARE logo 150x75




The RECARE project which finished in 2018 brought together a multidisciplinary team of 27 different organisations to find ways of assessing the current threats to soils and finding innovative solutions to prevent further soil degradation across Europe.

Logo smart soil CMYK




 SmartSOIL (Sustainable farm Management Aimed at Reducing Threats to SOILs under climate change) was a research project in the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme (2011-2015).The projectidentified and developed options to increase C stocks and optimise C use (flows) whilst maintaining sustainable SOC stocks.




 The goal of SolACE - Solutions for improving Agroecosystem and Crop Efficiency for water and nutrient use - is to help European agriculture face major challenges, notably increased rainfall variability and reduced use of N and P fertilizers.
Tuesday, 26 March 2019 15:35

Stakeholder workshops

Members of the Welland Arable Business Group in the initial workshop to prioritise research topics

Members of the Welland Arable Business Group in the initial workshop to prioritise research topics

Stakeholder workshop 2

Stakeholder Workshop2

Flipchart used in workshop to identify barriers and opportunities associated with update of soil improving management practices

Flipchart used in workshop to identify barriers and opportunities associated with update of soil improving management practicesLowRes


Tuesday, 26 March 2019 15:26

Field Visits

Farmers from the East Midlands in UK visit the study site compaction alleviation experiment

Farmers from the East Midlands visiting the compaction alleviation plotsLowRes Field visit


More farmers discussing the compaction alleviation experiment

Discussing compaction alleviation experimentLowRes Discussing compaction alleviation experiment2LowRes
Local farmers visiting the compaction alleviation experimentLowRes  
Monday, 25 March 2019 17:38



A full list of SoilCare's project reports can be found on this page..


All the latest news from the SoilCare project....


The SoilCare newsletters..


 News and stories from the field...


The SoilCare project has produced a wide range of videos...

Project leaflets

The SoilCare project introductory leaflet provides details of the aims and objectives of the project and the partners involved. It is available in 14 different languages

Policy briefs

The SoilCare project has produced a number of concise summaries of particular soil-related issues identified in the project with some recommendations for policy options.

Policy Scenarios

The SoilCare project is developing a set of future scenarios...

Scientific publications

On this page you will find a list of peer-reviewed scientific publications from the project…

Media coverage

Details of all the media coverage that the SoilCare project has received...

Press Releases

A list of all press releases issued by the SoilCare project...


List of soil-related words and terms..

Monday, 25 March 2019 17:07


Compaction-specific SICS prevent compaction and/or lower the density of the soil, increase the water infiltration rate, lower the penetration resistance, and improve soil structure. They address the cause of compaction as well as compaction itself and its effects. Compaction-specific SICS mainly involve substitution and redesign mechanisms.

The table below provides links to existing practical information on the use of practices to address the causes of compaction as well as the compaction itself

 Title Language Country Format  Description  Link
Terranimo - decision support tool EN DK/SZ Website A computer model that predicts the risk of soil compaction by farm machinery https://www.terranimo.world/CH/About.aspx?language=en
Preventing soil compaction - preserving and restoring soil fertility EN, DE Germany Guide Soil compaction guidance and advice

English: https://www.umwelt.nrw.de/fileadmin/redaktion/Broschueren/bodenverdichtung_broschuere_en.pdf

German: https://www.umwelt.nrw.de/fileadmin/redaktion/Broschueren/bodenverdichtung_broschuere.pdf


This page is constantly under review, and its contents may change.



Sunday, 24 February 2019 21:10


Workshop Stakeholderanalyse



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