Public goods – Soil health

Reviewing the evidence on agricultural practices to improve soil health and deliver public goods

This project involved reviewing the evidence on agricultural interventions for improving soil health to inform future land-use policy in Yorkshire and the UK.

DEFRA is currently exploring how to incentivise farmers and land owners to manage their land in ways that can deliver so-called public goods, as well as food security. These goods could include improved water quality, flood protection and carbon storage.

The proposed changes to the way farm subsidies are awarded presented iCASP with an opportunity to make a helpful contribution. Recognising that healthy soil underpins the delivery of many public goods, iCASP has carried out a rapid review of evidence on the effectiveness of 10 agricultural practices for improving soil health. The10 selected were those adopted most frequently by Yorkshire farmers signed up to current agri-environment schemes. The results provide some useful pointers for policy-makers and farmers. This guidance has been produced in a series of information leaflets targeted at different audiences.


Dales to Vales River Network
Environment Agency
Leeds City Region Local Nature Partnership
Natural England
National Farmers' Union
Nidderdale Areas Of Natural Beauty (and Northern Upland Chain Local Nature Partnership)
Sustainable Futures
University of Leeds
University of Newcastle
University of Sheffield
University of York
White Rose Forest
Yorkshire Water

Project Team

Prof. Jonathan Leake & Dr. Ruth Little – University of Sheffield
Prof. Mark Reed – University of Newcastle
Dr. Julia Martin-Ortega, Dr. Paul Kay, Prof. Les Firbank, Prof. Joseph Holden, Prof. Bill Kunin & Dr. Guy Ziv – University of Leeds
Prof. Colin Brown, Dr. Thorunn Helgason & Prof. Piran White – University of York
William Crookshank & Iain McDonald – Environment Agency
Mark Phillips & Rob Burnett – Natural England
James Copeland – National Farmers Union
Andrew Walker – Yorkshire Water
Paul Burgess – Nidderdale Areas Of Natural Beauty (and Northern Upland Chain Local Nature Partnership)
Charles Forman – Dales to Vales River Network
Steve Cann – Sustainable Futures
Guy Thompson – White Rose Forest
Rob Stoneman – Leeds City Region Local Nature Partnership


May 2018 – November 2018


Public Goods Review soil health

Download the full report, summary and briefing paper below.

Full report


      Briefing paper

        The personal information we request from you is used exclusively to help us understand the impact and use of the document. By providing your details and downloading this resource you consent to iCASP contacting you at a later date for feedback on how useful it has been. Your information will be kept secure in accordance with the Data Protection Act; it will be kept confidential and will be retained by iCASP for a maximum period of 10 years. You are under no obligation to respond and you can opt out at any time by contacting