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

Abdallah Alaoui*, Moritz Hallama, Roger Bar, Ioanna Panagea, Felicitas Bachmann, Carola Pekrun, L. Fleskens, Ellen Kandeler, R. Hessel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number729
Number of pages15
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2022


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