The SOILCARE project developed the concept of soil-improving cropping systems (SICS) to advance the adoption of soil management while ensuring sustainability and profitability. A trans-disciplinary approach was 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.
Existing information from literature and long term experiments was analysed to develop a comprehensive methodology for assessing performance of cropping systems at multiple levels. The SOILCARE project employed a multi-actor approach to select promising soil-improving cropping systems for scientific evaluation in 16 study sites across Europe covering different pedo-climatic and socio-economic conditions. The SICS included under the project were monitored and evaluated for sustainability and profitability based on their environmental, economic and socioeconomic effects.
The SOILCARE project details the considerable contributions SICS can deliver to foster the transition towards sustainable agriculture, but recognises that their effectiveness remains difficult to evaluate over the lifespan of one project. Results from study sites contributed to further understanding of adoption factors, including economic and social considerations, while paving the way for further research to upscale scenario evaluations.