Sustainable soil management

Agriculture is facing major challenges, such as those of a changing climate and progressively stringent legislation. The importance of healthy soil is becoming increasingly evident. At the Louis Bolk Institute, we generate scientific knowledge, work together with farmers, and experiment on farms with measures to achieve healthy soils, laying the foundation for resilient and robust production.

Healthy soil

Soil is a complex, living entity, which is robust, yet simultaneously extremely vulnerable. It forms the basis of every type of land-based agriculture. A properly functioning soil delivers high production levels for farmers, nourishes soil life, ensures good soil moisture management and is resistant to diseases and pests. Soil also contributes to important ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration for climate mitigation, retaining and purifying water, and biodiversity conservation.


The sustainable management of agricultural soils is of great importance. For many agricultural-related policy challenges, soil quality and good soil management are crucial; oftentimes, the success of policies rely upon them. Examples of policies in which soil management plays an important role are: (i) the national programme on agricultural soils (Nationaal Programma Landbouwbodems); (ii) the Dutch Ministry of LNV's vision on circular agriculture (Visie op Kringlooplandbouw); (iii) the National Climate Agreement of the Netherlands; (iv) the 6th Dutch Nitrates Action Programme, which includes a re-evaluation of Dutch fertiliser policy; and (v) the Water Framework Directive. This is also on the international agenda, such as in the Paris Agreement and the EU's Farm to Fork Strategy.

Organic substance

For farmers, important topics include the management of organic matter content, closing nutrient cycles, water storage, soil resilience, and soil organisms. These subjects are therefore an integral part of our practice-based research. By using practical tools, we aid in the stimulation of soil organisms, realising water storage for periods of drought, and understanding processes through the use of models. In this way, we address questions from farmers, stakeholders in the chain, farmer cooperatives, provinces and national government. 

Wide-ranging expertise  

The Louis Bolk Institute works with and for farmers, businesses, and national, regional, and local authorities. Our team of researchers has wide-ranging expertise and a wealth of knowledge on soils, soil processes, arable farming, management of organic matter content, soil organisms & biodiversity, and nutrient cycles. We approach issues in an integrated manner, taking the practical considerations of those involved in farming into account.

More information

Our expertise, agricultural network and scientific and applied knowledge enables us to consider subjects in connection to others. Reasoning from the perspective of the overarching system, and taking an agro-systemic approach is paramount. If you are interested to know more, please take a look at our projects below or contact Chris Koopmans.