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Agriculture and rural development
News article4 February 2021Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development2 min read

Commission publishes study on the CAP’s impact on soil

Thanks to the common agricultural policy (CAP), requirements are in place to reduce the use of plant protection products through support for organic farming and by banning their use in ecological focus areas under greening payments. In addition, cross-compliance has contributed to limiting the use of fertilisers in nitrate vulnerable zones. These are among the findings of the evaluation support study on the impact of the CAP on sustainable management of the soil published today by the European Commission.

Furthermore, the study found that the CAP has enabled long-term changes in farmers’ practices by promoting the implementation of practices beneficial to soil such as catch crops, cover crops and nitrogen-fixing crops. Still, few effects were highlighted in the study regarding the maintenance of crop residues, manure and compost application.

Regarding soil erosion, the study highlights that CAP measures have contributed to its reduction. However, progress has been limited over the 2010-16 period, suggesting that efforts to reduce soil erosion need to be strengthened, in particular in areas where the risk of soil erosion is high. The study also concluded that the CAP’s contribution in mitigating soil threats depends on the implementation choices at Member State or regional level.

This study, along with the outcome of the public consultation on natural resources, and the findings of the previously published support studies on biodiversity and water will contribute to the joint evaluation of the impact of the CAP on biodiversity, soil and water (natural resources). This evaluation will assess the effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, relevance and EU added value of the CAP with respect to its impact on natural resources. It will be concluded with the publication of a Commission report, envisaged for autumn 2021.


The 2014-20 CAP includes soil as one of the key resources for agriculture and forestry. Its objective of ‘sustainable management of natural resources and climate action’ includes also the objective of addressing sustainable soil management.

The CAP provides a set of regulatory and financial instruments for the agricultural sector, some of which directly aim to address soil quality and foster sustainable soil management. Other instruments, primarily addressing other environmental issues (biodiversity, climate, or water) may also contribute to sustainable soil management.

Related links

Evaluation support study on the impact of the CAP on sustainable management of the soil

Sustainable agriculture in the EU

Impact of the CAP on habitats, landscapes, biodiversity

Impact of the CAP on water

Organic farming


Publication date
4 February 2021
Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development