Publications on Soil Management & Analysis

Guidebook / Manual

Publications on Soil Management & Analysis

Guidebook / Manual


The following publication is available for a fee.

BESTE, A. (2021) 5th edition: Improvement of soil functions and soil fertility with the help of Qualitative Soil Analysis.

Of equal interest for organic and conventional farms.
Instructions for practitioners. 35 p. with coloured illustrations, incl. storage medium with example pictures. 24,80 € plus postage.

The soil analysis described here provides the practitioner with comprehensive, meaningful information on the condition of soil structure and soil functions. It provides target values and stress values and thus considerably simplifies both the analysis and the evaluation. It makes it easier to decide which techniques can be chosen to maintain or improve soil functions. The success of the measures can always be checked directly and independently by quickly examining the current soil condition.
  • No high technical effort!
  • No cumbersome sampling!
  • No external examination!
  • No analysis costs!
  • USB stick with sample images and additional information included!

More information here: “Organic Farm Knowledge”


Publications in chronological order

academicfor practical use

Beste, A. (2023): Indoor Farming – Sustainability Spin or Substance? On: ARC2020

Indoor farming is a growth area that is being proposed as a solution to a number of problems in the agricultural and food industry. But what is it actually, and how sustainable is it really?

Link to artikel

Beste, A. (2023): “Soil protection-related legislation and strategies in the European Union” Commissioned by BMEL and BVVG.

Soil protection and land conservation were first given central importance in the European Union by the 6th EU Environmental Action Programme in 2001. In this program, the European Commission was asked to develop a comprehensive thematic soil protection strategy for Europe. The Communication to the Member States and the Parliament on soil protection “Towards a specific soil protection strategy” prepared by the Commission in 2002 represented a first step. After protracted negotiations and a withdrawal of a legislative proposal by the EU Commission in 2014, the EU is currently embarking on a renewed legislative initiative.
Due to the EU candidate status Ukraine received in June 2022, it is of high importance for the Ukrainian partners to learn more about the EU requirements and strategies in the field of soil protection. This paper aims to provide an overview of the status of EU legislation on soil and to list and describe further legislation relevant for soil as well as existing and planned strategies (e.g. within the new European Green Deal) related to soil protection.

The paper and a presentation are also available in German and Ukrainian.

Beste, A., Lorentz, N. (2022): Ecosystem Soil – Bringing nature-based solutions on climate change and biodiversity conservation down to earth. (Ed.): giz/BMUV.

There is an unprecedented interest in nature-based solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation. But something very important is often missing from discussions of such solutions: the role of healthy soils. As habitats for plants and animals, as regulators of climate and water, and as the foundation of terrestrial ecosystems and the vast majority of our food production, soils are critical to all ecosystem services – including those that humans depend on for survival.

Yet soil health is in jeopardy in many parts of the world, depleted by decades of industrial agriculture and land degradation, and further threatened by climate change. One third of the earth’s land is already degraded. This degraded land is home to about 3 billion people. At the same time, healthy soils can boost resilience to climate shocks and increase species diversity both above- and below-ground, making them a critical element of policies and practices for climate change adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity conservation, water resource management and sustainable development.

This guidebook aims to demonstrate the importance of sustainable soil management (SSM) for adaptation to climate change, biodiversity conservation and the achievement of long-term food security. By adopting nature-based solutions such as ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA), farmers can dramatically increase their productivity while adapting to climate risks.

Beste, A. (2022): GREENWASHING & HIGH TECH – Faking it: (un-)sustainable solutions for agriculture.

It has been clear for many years that agriculture in Europe needs to become more sustainable and requires fundamental change. In recent years, more and more “innovative” techniques or products have been presented as THE one big solution – examples include precision farming, indoor farming, new genetic engineering or carbon farming. It is often suggested that the problems of the agricultural system can now be solved, although only partial areas are affected. Can carbon farming make agriculture climate-friendly? Is indoor farming sustainable? Can new genetic engineering be used to breed more resistant plants? Does precision farming solve the issue of over-fertilisation?

This study takes a closer look at some of the currently prominently discussed technical “sustainability solutions” and asks critical questions about their effectiveness. Do techno-fixes prominently discussed in policy papers and the media bring agriculture into harmony with ecosystems, animal welfare and societal needs?

Beste, A. (2022): Keynote lecture “On the state of soils in Europe’s agriculture”. Slowfood & Institut für Welternährung.
Berlin Workshop Talks on the Future of Food
“Sustainable and fair soil use in the EU” 14.1.2022

Presentation Dr. Beste in English

Beste, A. (2021): Agroforestry and CAP – all Talk, no Trees. On: ARC2020

Agroforestry is positively highlighted in many adopted texts and directives from Brussels and is also mentioned in the framework of the CAP and proposed as a possible measure of the Eco-Schemes. Despite its undisputed benefits, it is still largely unknown. What’s more surprising is that the current process of CAP strategic plans seems to virtually overlook it – so is it all spin, no substance?

Link to the article

ARC2020 is a European discussion platform on sustainable ideas and practices for tomorrow’s agriculture.

Beste, A. – co-author and supporter (2021): Position statement on soil carbon sequestration and its possible remuneration through CO2 certificates.

Critical position paper of German environmental NGOs and scientists on CO2 certificates.

With the collaboration of Dr. A. Beste; EEB (2021): Carbon Farming for Climate, Nature, and Farmers report.

The EU is promoting carbon farming as a new business model to deliver climate action in agriculture. To ensure the EU harnesses the full win-win-win potential of carbon farming, the EEB sets out the concrete solutions carbon farming should prioritise, and makes five key recommendations in this report.

Beste A. (2021): Flood Protection – Let’s Start with Soil. On: ARC2020

A lot of money is invested in building dams and retention polders to protect against flooding, in technically complex runoff regulation – for example in vineyards – or in converting farmland in floodplains into grassland.
Nevertheless, such measures do not combat the causes of soil-related flood generation. Nor are they a means of combating erosion, and by simply diverting the urgently needed water, the crops on the land gain nothing and the risk of flooding increases. One factor falls completely outside the focus of the EU Flood Management Directive or even the soil management regulations in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP): soil compaction. Soils in many intensively farmed regions of Europe, including Germany, are suffering from increasing compaction. Soils no longer hold water in the land. The “rain digestibility” decreases. Something can be done about this….

Link to the articel

ARC2020 is an European discussion platform on sustainable ideas and practices for tomorrow’s agriculture.

Beste, A. (2021): A Soil Scientist’s Perspective – Carbon Farming, CO2 Certification & Carbon Sequestration in Soil. On ARC2020.

Link to the article

ARC2020 is a European discussion platform on sustainable ideas and practices for tomorrow’s agriculture.

Beste, A. (2021): Precision Farming – or “The Emperor’s New Clothes”? On ARC2020.

The “digitalisation of agriculture” or so-called “precision farming” is loudly and repeatedly praised from many sides as the solution to the current environmental problems of agriculture.
High-tech in the field is supposed to protect the climate, the environment and biodiversity. But there is little technical discussion about whether the environmental benefits of these innovations have actually been proven, who has access to these technologies and who controls the data. At what scale can precision agriculture techniques be effective? How well do they really help to make agriculture more sustainable? Are the loudly expressed praises justified?

Link to article

ARC2020 is a European discussion platform on sustainable ideas and practices for tomorrow’s agriculture.

Beste, A. (2019): Comparing Organic, Agroecological and Regenerative Farming.

Link to the 3-part series

ARC2020 is a European discourse platform on sustainable ideas and practices for tomorrow’s agriculture.

Beste, A.; Idel, A. (2019): The belief in technology and big data. The myth of climate smart agriculture – why less bad isn’t good.

In Germany, the study was nominated for the Salus Media Award 2019. This Award honours commendable publications on sustainable agriculture.

The study refers to many facts which show why the system of so-called “modern”
intensive agriculture is climate-damaging instead of climate-smart, and why technical fixes, using Big Data, precision farming and increased output per hectare or per cow cannot fundamentally change this.

It also explains how agriculture and animal husbandry can be made really sustainable, climate-friendly and climate-adapted, why cattle should not be demonised for this, and how agricultural systems can be made “resilient” – i.e. resistant and flexible so that they can compensate for extreme weather conditions for as long as possible.

Video statement on the study by Dr Luca Montanarella, responsible for the European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC) at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC) in German

Beste, A. (2018): #SoilMatters… On humus, soil structures & the limits of no-till. Auf ARC2020

ARC2020 is a European discourse platform on sustainable ideas and practices for tomorrow’s agriculture.

Link to

Beste, A.(2015): Down to Earth – The soil we live off. Study on the state of soil in Europeans agriculture.

Over the last 15 years, Andrea Beste examined more than 400 sites in Europe – mainly in Germany – on the condition of the soil structure. This was done on behalf of food companies, universities and farm advisory services or as part of training seminars on soil protection for farmers. In this study, the freelance scientist and consultant presents current data material and conclusions from various European research projects on the condition of soils that have been completed in recent years. The results are worrying. Many soils are showing real symptoms of burn-out. In view of climate change, we need particularly fit and healthy soils in Europe to produce enough food, guarantee clean drinking water and prevent flood damage. The author also describes which therapy the soils in Europe urgently need in order to recover. The methods presented are not new. Some have long been overestimated or even misjudged. Others, more effective, are still not applied.
Soil – the basis of all our lives – still has too little lobby in Europe!

See also the Report of the EU SoilService Projekt.

Beste, A. (2015): Intensive Cropping. A troubled future for industrial farming. In: Soil Atlas: Facts and figures about earth, land and fields.

Beste, A. (2015): Organic Farming: Feeding crops by feeding the soil. In: Soil Atlas: Facts and figures about earth, land and fields.

Beste, A.; Faensen-Thiebes, A. (2015): Terra Preta / pyrolysis charcoal. BUND – Assessment of its environmental relevance. Still topical: The critical assessment of “biochar” and co. BUND, Berlin.

Dr Luca Montanarella, responsible for the European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC) at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra and member of the board of the International Technical Panel on Soil (ITPS) as part of the Global Soil Partnership, says in an interview in December 2018:
>> I fully agree with the critical assessment of “biochar” use in this publication. <<

In German
Please use DeepL to translate

Beste, A., Boeddinhaus, R. (2011): Biodiversity not Soya Madness!
How to solve the long-standing problem of protein deficiency in the EU.

The scale of meat production and consumption that has prevailed in the European Union for years no longer has anything to do with the sensible use of pastureland for natural meat production. High soya imports were and are today an essential prerequisite for the development of factory farming. These farming methods are not only extremely intensive in terms of raw materials and energy, harmful to the climate and the environment, and full of violence against animals – they are also unacceptable with regard to the world food security question. They lead to the displacement of small farmers in the countries the soya is grown, cause severe environmental pollution and poisoning of humans.

Europe’s dependence on protein imports for its immense meat production also entails great risks for many European farmers. The credo of recent years has been that they should produce for a world market price that does not cover their European production costs anyway; not to mention profit. Moreover, in this system based on “remote feeding”, animal production in Europe is directly dependent on price fluctuations on the world markets. Many farms cannot absorb this and give up.

We have to get animal husbandry and milk and meat production back on track. We need to give agriculture a perspective for a more independent form of feeding with more regional added value and more quality. Climate, soil, water and biodiversity could also benefit. What we need is a meaningful strengthening of domestic protein crop cultivation!

This study is intended as a first step in this direction. It provides an overview of the status quo regarding legumes in Europe and identifies the necessary fields of action for an efficient strengthening of protein crop cultivation.

Beste, A. (2006): Qualitative Analysis in Science, Consultance and Training in Soil Conservation. In: Proceedings of 17. International Soil Tillage Research Organisation Conference. Sustainability – its Impact on Soil management and environment. Kiel

Beste, A. (2005): Qualitative Analysis of Soil Condition to Maintain Ecological Soil Functions under Agricultural Management. In: Strategies, Science and Law for the Conservation of the World Soil Ressources. Appendix. SCAPE International Workshop Selfoss, Iceland.

Beste, A. (2004): Extended Spade Diagnosis for a complex evaluation of soil conditions. In: “local land and soil news”, the bulletin of the European Land and Soil Alliance (ELSEA) e.V., “Erosion and Landslide – When Soil is moving away” 10/11

BESTE A. (2004): Further Development and Improvement of Spade Diagnosis as Field Method for the Evaluation of Ecological Significant Structure Parameters of Soils under Agricultural Management.

This is the full English version of the Dissertation.

Beste, A. (2000): Maintaining ecological soil functions – techniques in organic farming systems. In: Korean Society of Organic Agriculture (Hg.): Proceedings Conference of Korean Organic Agriculture, Seoul

Beste, A. (2000): Extended Spadediagnosis – an applicable field method for the evaluation of some ecologically significant soil-function-parameters in science and agricultural consulting practice. In: Alföldi/Lockeretz/Niggli (Hg.): Proceedings 13th international IFOAM Scientific Conference, Basel

Beste, A. (1999): An Applicable Field Method for the Evaluation of Some Ecologically Significant Soil-Function-Parameters in Science and Agricultural Consulting Practice. In: Proceedings of the International Soil Conservation Organisation Conference 1999, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Beste, A. (1998): Extended Spade Diagnosis. In: Sustainable Land Management. Guidelines for Impact Monitoring. Centre for Development and Environment (cde), Bern (CH) & Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (gtz) (Hg.), Eschborn.

You can find the toolkit here

Beste, A. (1998): An Applicable Field Method for the Evaluation of Ecological Soil Vitality in Science and Agricultural Consulting Practice. In: Proceedings of International Conference on Sustainable Agriculture in Tropical and Subtropical Highlands with special Reference to Latin America (SATHLA) , Rio de Janeiro, Instituto Nacional de Tecnologia, Rio de Janeiro

Same content, but somewhat more detailed here: