A Review of Crop Husbandry and Soil Management Practices Using Meta-Analysis Studies: Towards Soil-Improving Cropping Systems

R.P.J.J. Rietra*, M. Heinen, O. Oenema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Coherent improvements in crop varieties and crop husbandry and soil management practices are needed to increase global crop production in a sustainable manner. However, these practices are often discussed separately, and as a result there is little overview. Here, we present a database and synthesis of 154 meta-analysis studies related to ten main crop husbandry and soil management practices, including crop type and rotations, tillage, drainage, nutrient management, irrigation and fertigation, weed management, pest management, crop residue management, mechanization and technology, and landscape management. Most meta-analysis studies were related to tillage (55), followed by crop type and rotations (32), nutrient management (25), crop residue management (19), and irrigation and fertigation (18). Few studies were related to landscape management (6) and mechanization and technology (2). In terms of outcome, studies focused on crop yield and quality (81), soil quality (73), and environmental impacts (56), and little on economic effects (7) or resource use efficiency (24). Reported effects of alternative practices, relative to conventional practice, were positive in general. Effect sizes were relatively large for environmental effects (nutrient leaching, greenhouse gas emissions), and small for soil quality (except for soil life) and crop yield. Together, meta-analysis studies indicate that there is large scope for increasing cropland productivity and minimizing environmental impacts. A roadmap is provided for integration and optimization of all ten practices, and recommendations are formulated to address the gaps in meta-analysis studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number255
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2022


  • Crop residue
  • Crop rotation
  • Crop yield
  • Environmental effects
  • Irrigation
  • Nutrient management
  • Resource use
  • Soil quality
  • Soil-improving cropping systems
  • Tillage


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