Assessing the potential of no-­till farming across European soils

Grantham Scholar Dr Jennifer Veenstra currently works as a Monitoring and Evaluation Manager in Enda Dominicana. She works on projects in agroforestry coffee plantations of northern Nicaragua committed to sustainable development.

At the Grantham Centre Jennifer studied the environmental and social factors that influence European farmers in their decision-making about no tillage adoption.

Jennifer Veenstra’s project at the Grantham Centre

Food security, climate change and environmental impacts are the major challenges for today’s agriculture. To face these challenges, an alternative system to conventional agriculture has been proposed: no tillage. In this system, seeding is performed directly in the residues of the antecedent crops, without previous soil preparation, causing a minimal disturbance. Around the globe it has been proven that no tillage maintains similar yields than conventional tillage, while the development of soil structure enhances soil and water conservation. Despite this benefits, European no tillage adoption rates remain very low.

This interdisciplinary project studies the environmental and social factors that influence European farmers in the decision-making process regarding no tillage adoption. Data from no tillage systems and conventional tillage systems is compared. Farmers’ reality is approached through group discussions and interviews in agro-environmentally and culturally distinct regions across Europe. In these same regions, field tests are performed and environmental samples are collected to be analysed in the laboratory. Interest is focused on soil’s physical, chemical and biological properties, and how these are related to two critical soil functions: support for agricultural production and carbon sink.

Outreach and impact

images of soil being tested in Jennifer Veenstra's lab, the results of experiments like this feed into POSTnotesRead Jenny’s blog Why I Think Soils Are Entities – Not A Set Of Properties. Written for UN World Soil Day in this blog Jenny explores soil beyond the benefits it provides people.

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Jennifer Veenstra


Dr Manoj Menon

Department of Geography


Dr Colin Smith

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

Dr Anna Krzywoszynska

Department of Geography