The economic value of sustainable soil management in arable farming systems - A conceptual framework

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Soil quality is an important determinant of agricultural productivity, farm resilience and environmental quality. Despite its importance, the incorporation of sustainable soil management in economic models is lacking. This study approaches farmers as decision makers on soil management. Sustainable soil management may be an investment that goes at the expense of short-term returns but increases future soil quality. Hence, the key problem is economic: establishing long-term sustainable soil management at a minimized loss of income. In this study, we define the Economic Value of Land (EVL)as the cumulative returns of a piece of land over a period in time. Maximum long-term EVL is obtained if a soil’s potential is maximally utilized in a sustainable way. From this follows that the Economic Value of Sustainable soil Management (EVSM)is defined as the difference between a sustainable and unsustainable EVL. To acquire a fundamental understanding of EVSM, agronomic and technical factors must be integrated with economics. Production management, the complete set of physical and non- physical inputs is the primary determinant of future soil quality and hence EVL.Maximizing EVL first requires a fundamental understanding of soil quality management: What are the properties of soil quality and how are these influenced by crop production? Subsequently, production management has to be organized in such a way EVL is maximized. This study provides an overview of soil quality management and crop production management linked to economics. The framework provides a qualitative blueprint for bio-economic modelling and a basis for policies to enhance sustainable soil management.
Original languageEnglish
Article number126334
JournalEuropean Journal of Agronomy
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Soil Quality, Economic value of land Sustainable soil management Crop production Ecosystem service


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