Soil related indicators to support agro-environmental policies

The presented datasets and indicators on soil erosion, soil organic carbon stocks and soil nutrients are the result of modelling activities taken place at the Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra. The datasets are important advancements in the current knowledge of soil properties and processes at continental scale. In addition, the soil erosion, soil carbon and soil nutrients datasets and indicators provide baselines for evaluating the current status of agricultural soils in the European Union (EU) and evaluating the impact of agro-environmental policies on land management. Moreover, those datasets can further contribute to propose and design management practices to improve the status of agricultural soils, face land degradation and better target policy interventions. The indicators of soil erosion and soil organic carbon are currently included in monitoring the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition, here we propose the development of soil nutrients datasets both as individual indicators (Phosphorus, Nitrogen, Potassium) and as composite indicator of soil fertility. Concluding, we found that the soil organic carbon changes cannot be identified within the timeline of policy interventions (for example in the CAP the assessment cycle is 7 years).

This document presents the latest status of soil condition in the European Union (EU), focusing particularly on agricultural land. The document presents the most recent assessment (2016) of soil erosion by water in the EU using the latest state-of-the-art data on management practices and the latest Land Use / Land Cover Area frame Survey (LUCAS). The assessment of soil organic carbon stocks and changes between the two LUCAS surveys (2009, 2015) ( is addressed with a specific focus on agricultural land. Finally, the report proposes data sets and methods to assess the nutrient status of soils in the EU. To facilitate policy support, we have developed indicators (taking into account policy-relevant requests) based on aggregated data at regional scales (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics - NUTS2) that compare changes of soil condition in time. The report includes three sections relevant to the evaluation of soil condition and agri-environmental policies: (a) soil erosion, (b) carbon stocks and (c) soil nutrients. Both the key conclusions and the main findings (below) are grouped according to those three sections.