Actor analysis for sustainable soil management – A case study from the Netherlands

M.C. Kik*, G.D.H. Claassen, M.P.M. Meuwissen, Bert Smit, H.W. Saatkamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Soil quality is an important determinant of the productivity, environmental quality and resilience of agricultural ecosystems. In addition to the farmer, there are other actors who may have different interests in soil quality, hampering the implementation of sustainable soil management. To date, these actors have received surprisingly little attention. This study presents an inventory of actors involved in sustainable soil management, including farmers, but also value chain participants (e.g. input suppliers and processors), environmentally engaged actors and policy makers. We applied Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) to elicit actors’ priorities for soil sustain-ability criteria. AHP is a method of multi-criteria analysis that uses pairwise comparisons to assess the relative importance of criteria. Additionally, we differentiated actors based on their involvement and perceived ability to influence decision-making. Based on the results of a survey, actors were placed in a power-interest grid. In this grid, the self-perceived power and interest of actors was differentiated from their power and interest as perceived by other actors. The main findings were that a complex and heterogenous network of actors exists around the farmer. Within this network, farmers and related value chain participants showed a priority for economic soil sustainability criteria. Environmentally engaged actors were confirmed to have a clear priority for environmental criteria. The power-interest grids underscored the prime role of farmers and the relatively high power of value chain participants. The self-assessment of power-interest compared to assessment by others revealed noticeable differences, especially for NGOs and environmentally engaged actors. This study provides an overview of which actors to involve in decision-making on sustainable soil management, which is illustrated for the EU mission “Soil Health and Food”.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105491
JournalLand Use Policy
Early online date6 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Soil qualitySustainable soil managementActor analysisAnalytical Hierarchy Process (AHP)Power-interest mapping


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