Incentives for sustainable delivery of soil related ecosystem services

The main goal of this research project is to explore effective social-economic incentives to support a better balance between provisioning (food and non-food) and non-provisioning services (regulating and cultural services, like biodiversity, water regulation/purification and climate adaptation, healthy living environment, e.g.). The hypothesis is that different types of incentives are effective for restoring this balance, depending on the motivations of farmers, farming systems and on other circumstances.

In 2017 we focus on the following questions:

  • Do productive and other soil ecosystem services and corresponding soil management measures inhibit each other (trade-off) or strengthen each other (synergy)? How is this related to farm type and intrinsic motivation of farmers (based on literature and empirical evidence?
  • How effective are existing (legislation, financial incentives, covenants) and new steering mechanisms (nudging, framing, gaming) to improve the balance between provisioning and non-provisioning ecosystem services, taken farming systems and motivations into perspective?
  • How are these research questions related to farming systems and motivations of farmers? Can we validate research results in case studies?
  • Can we develop this knowledge into tangible business advice together with farmer organisations and chain partners in a public-private partnership?

Annual Report 2017

We carried out literature analysis, organized expert meetings and interviewed farmers. Trade-off analysis show that often bridging incentives should are needed, as investing in soil ecosystem services is often positive for food production on the short term. An integrated tailor made crop plan is more important than taking individual measures. Analysis of manure and lease policy shows that regulateions are shortterm, too complex or too permissive and knowlegde often not objective. Cooperation between partners is often needed to improve this. Important motives of farmers are to deliver high quality, to work according to knowledge on how the soil works, and to optimize within all the given (economic, financial, technical) preconditions.