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An analytical framework for soil degradation, farming practices, institutions and policy responses


  • Prager, Katrin
  • Schuler, Johannes
  • Helming, Katharina
  • Zander, Peter
  • Ratinger, Tomas
  • Hagedorn, Konrad


There is a lack of knowledge about the effectiveness and efficiency of soil conservation policies in agriculture and little understanding of how policy measures should be designed to encourage farmers to adopt soil conservation practices. This paper analyzes institutional settings surrounding agricultural soil management in ten European countries based on the Institutions of Sustainability framework. This framework considers the interdependencies between ecological and social systems, taking into account environmental conditions, farming practices impacting on soil conservation, different types of actors, policies, institutions and governance structures. The purpose of this paper is to describe the analytical framework and the methodology that all case studies are based on, present and discuss compared findings, outline implications for successful soil conservation policy, and draw conclusions on the methodological approach. The case studies focused on the main soil degradation types occurring across Europe which are addressed by a broad range of mandatory and incentive policies. The findings highlight the following issues: i) the need to design policies that target the locally most common soil threats and processes in the light of agricultural management; ii) the need to take farming management constraints into consideration, (iii) the need for good communication and cooperation both between agricultural and environmental authorities as well as between governmental and non-governmental stakeholders; iv) the necessary mix of mandatory and incentive instruments; and v) the need for data and monitoring systems allowing the evaluation of the effectiveness of policies and soil conservation practices.

Suggested Citation

  • Prager, Katrin & Schuler, Johannes & Helming, Katharina & Zander, Peter & Ratinger, Tomas & Hagedorn, Konrad, 2011. "An analytical framework for soil degradation, farming practices, institutions and policy responses," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland 114773, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:eaae11:114773

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    1. Søren C. Winter & Peter J. May, 2001. "Motivation for Compliance with Environmental Regulations," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 675-698.
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    3. Konrad Hagedorn, 2008. "Particular requirements for institutional analysis in nature-related sectors," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 35(3), pages 357-384, September.
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    6. Ben B. Davies & Ian D. Hodge, 2006. "Farmers' Preferences for New Environmental Policy Instruments: Determining the Acceptability of Cross Compliance for Biodiversity Benefits," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 393-414.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nadia Glæsner & Katharina Helming & Wim de Vries, 2014. "Do Current European Policies Prevent Soil Threats and Support Soil Functions?," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(12), pages 1-26, December.
    2. Gachango, Florence Gathoni & Andersen, Laura Mørch & Pedersen, Søren Marcus, 2015. "Adoption of voluntary water-pollution reduction technologies and water quality perception among Danish farmers," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 235-244.

    More about this item


    Institutional analysis; soil degradation; soil conservation policy; soil conservation measures; farming practices; policy evaluation; Farm Management;

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