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Main research question/goal
As part of the Interreg project “BodemBreed” this study summarizes the current knowledge on soil and soil management in an agricultural context, in an integrated way through a scientific literature review. The objective is to make stakeholders more conscious about the importance of and strategies for sustainable soil management, including a sound understanding of the effects of farming practices on soil quality and the environment. In the European, Flemish and Dutch policies, different soil characteristics for a long time have too often been considered as isolated entities, whereas there is in fact a complex coherence between the physical, chemical and biological characteristics and processes that jointly constitute soil quality.

Research approach
This study sheds light on soil quality and its correlations with agricultural practice. The international knowledge now available is presented in three main steps. The first step is theoretical introduction in which soil characteristics and soil processes are defined and their importance elucidated. The second step presents and evaluates a set of regularly used soil indicators and measurement methods. Specific attention goes to the demarcation of predefined indicator thresholds and reference values. In addition, it summarizes the present situation and trends in this research area as they relate to organic matter, soil compaction and erosion. The third and most extensive part of this study describes how the following farming practices interact with soil quality and agricultural suitability: soil tillage, crop rotation (including green manure crops), fertilization regime and crop protection.

Given today’s strict fertilizer legislation and restrictions regarding the use of chemical crop protection agents, farmers increasingly depend on natural soil processes to keep soil fertility up and plant disease pressure low. Soil is a basic and mutable living resource. The restoration, maintenance and improvement of soil quality through optimizing soil management is the essence of a sustainable and cost-effective farming practice. This document focuses on an integrated approach to agricultural practice. Optimizing the entire cultivation process over a longer period will yield better results than tackling individual problems in the short term. Harmonizing the different classes of aforementioned agricultural measures is of utmost importance.
Effective start/end date1/09/0930/09/10

ID: 4151890