A New Framework to Assess Sustainability of Soil Improving Cropping Systems in Europe

Alaoui, Abdallah; Hallama, Moritz; Bär, Roger; Panagea, Ioanna; Bachmann, Felicitas; Pekrun, Carola; Fleskens, Luuk; Kandeler, Ellen; Hessel, Rudi (2022). A New Framework to Assess Sustainability of Soil Improving Cropping Systems in Europe. Land, 11(5), p. 729. MDPI 10.3390/land11050729

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Assessing agricultural sustainability is one of the most challenging tasks related to expertise and support methodologies because it entails multidisciplinary aspects and builds on cultural and value-based elements. Thus, agricultural sustainability should be considered a social concept, reliable enough to support decision makers and policy development in a broad context. The aim of this manuscript was to develop a methodology for the assessment of the sustainability of soil improving cropping systems (SICS) in Europe. For this purpose, a decision tree based on weights (%) was chosen because it allows more flexibility. The methodology was tested with data from the SoilCare Horizon 2020 study site in Germany for the assessment of the impact of the integration of cover crops into the crop rotation. The effect on the environmental indicators was slightly positive, but most assessed properties did not change over the short course of the experiment. Farmers reported that the increase in workload was outweighed by a reputation gain for using cover crops. The incorporation of cover crops reduced slightly the profitability, due to the costs for seeds and establishment of cover crops. The proposed assessment methodology provides a comprehensive summary to assess the agricultural sustainability of SICS.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Soil Science
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography
10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Alaoui, Abdallah, Bär, Roger, Bachmann, Felicitas


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology
900 History > 910 Geography & travel








Ariane Viviane Lisa Grimmer

Date Deposited:

19 May 2022 08:26

Last Modified:

28 Apr 2023 09:35

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

sustainability framework; overall sustainability; costs and benefits; cover crops





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