The issue of valuing and fostering soil quality
04 July 2019

On the 17th of June 2019 the 16th International Symposium on Soil and Plant Analysis (ISSPA) took place in Wageningen. According to the main theme, which was 'Using tools to optimise plant production and quality’, CLM presented a poster at the symposium. The poster addressed the issue of valuing and fostering soil quality by agricultural stakeholders, by using a “label" for sustainable soil management.  This label represents a set of measures, or practices, for which a farmer can receive a certain score. This score  then determines the level of sustainable soil management. During the poster walk, some interesting discussions took place. One of the main questions was whether the set of practices had been validated. Since the practices were extensively debated by a group of experts from different companies and institutions, they can be considered to represent the state of the art. Furthermore, it was suggested to consider the practices both individually and in combination and then monitor their effects. This would indeed validate the practices. However, we must always keep in mind that there is no guarantee each individual measure will work on every farm. Each farmer will have his own approach, not to mention the different soil types and histories of the farming companies. Currently, different parties -varying from potato buyers to real estate owners- are using the label to classify soil management by farmers. In some cases this means adjustments need to be made to the label. This enables the label to maintain its state of the art-status, according to the Plan - Do - Check - Adjust principle.