Sustainable soil management & agricultural production

Climate-smart sustainable management of agricultural soils 

This is the application of operations, practices, and treatments to protect soil and enhance its performance. It includes controlling traffic, avoiding excessive tillage, managing pests and nutrients efficiently, selecting adequate crops and rotations, keeping the soil covered, increasing diversity (crops, soil, landscape), managing irrigation efficiently, adding organic matter. 

Sustainable agriculture is the efficient production of safe, high-quality agricultural product, in a climate smart way that protects and improves the natural environment, the social and economic conditions of the farmers and local communities.

The main components of  sustainable farming: soil management, crop management, water management, disease/pest management and waste management

5 key principles of sustainability for food and agriculture

  • Increase productivity, employment and value addition in food systems.
  • Protect and enhance natural resources.
  • Improve livelihoods and foster inclusive economic growth.
  • Enhance the resilience of people, communities and ecosystems.
  • Adapt governance to new challenges.

Recovery of compacted soils

Soil compaction due to agricultural vehicle traffic is recognized as one of the major threats to soil productivity, and soil ecological and hydrological functioning. This video provides an overview of the different recovery techniques: mechanical (tillage), biological (“biosubsoiling”) and natural methods.

In the past, the choice was often made to mechanically crack the compacted soil. This resulted in short-term improvement but recompaction occurred several years later. The main disadvantage of mechanical methods is that often the complete soil structure is disturbed, which strongly reduces the mechanical strength and moisture delivery capacity. Most promising for the long-term melioration of compacted arable land is the use of deep-rooting plants: biosubsoilers.

Contributing projects

Policy briefs

From Risk to Resilience: Policy challenges for Soil Erosion Control

Water-induced soil erosion is a growing concern in the EU, with climate change projections indicating a potential 13-23 % rise in erosion rates. 

The variability of soil erosion modelling techniques highlights the need for standardisation of data sets and harmonisation of model parameterisation to allow valid comparisons of policy measures. 

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has a limited effect in decreasing erosion risk, as the voluntary measures are often not well targeted to the identified erosionprone areas. 

Policymakers should advocate for targeted erosion mitigation measures and elaborate more appropriate assessment protocols including sediment connectivity modelling to improve accuracy in erosion risk assessments.


Output from the CLIMASOMA project. Identified and summarized socio-economic and political barriers and incentives for the application of soil and crop management in climate adaptation strategies. The results presented are from a stock-take of EU policies and their instruments that impact agricultural management and barriers and drivers at the farm level in relation to improving soil health and climate change adaptation. The work includes perceptions of barriers and drivers that co-determine the willingness of farmers to act and adapt to climate change




RICI - Access to cross-European soil science expertise

‘Resources, Infrastructure and Capabilities Inventory (RICI)’ is an online platform for policy stakeholders. RICI provides access to a pool of specialized scientists and experts at local, regional and national level across Europe. The online inventory is the ‘Yellow pages’ on expertise on soil science in relation to questions for policy matters.