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Don’t throw efficiency out with the bathwater: A reply to Jeffery and Verheijen (2020) (2021)

Bartkowski B.

Environmental Science & Policy, 122 (), 72-74



In this communication, I reply to the recent article by Jeffery and Verheijen (2020) ‘A new soil health policy paradigm: Pay for practice not performance!’. While expressing support for their call for a more pronounced role of soil protection in agri-environmental policy, I critically discuss the two main elements of their specific proposal: its emphasis of the concept of soil health and the recommendation to use action-based payments as the main policy instrument. I argue for using soil functions as a more established concept (and thus more adequate for policy purposes), which is also informationally richer than soil health. Furthermore, I provide a more differentiated discussion of the relative advantages and disadvantages of result-based and action-based payments, while addressing the specific criticisms towards the former that Jeffery and Verheijen voice. Also, I suggest an alternative approach (a hybrid model-based scheme) that addresses the limitations of both Jeffery and Verheijen’s own proposal and the valid criticisms they direct at result-based payments.

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