Soil is a fundamental resource, subject to severe and quick degradation processes because of the pressure of human activities, particularly in many regions of the Mediterranean where agriculture is an important economic activity. It has been proven that the use of sustainable soil management practices can potentially give rise to the creation of a carbon sink, an increase of soil organic matter content, the maintenance of crop productivity and a reduction in erosion. Despite the existence of scientific evidence about the benefits generated by the use of sustainable practices on soil, many farmers are reluctant to adopt them. The objective of this study is to identify and give a hierarchical structure to the factors that condition the adoption of sustainable practices in the management of agricultural soil. The case of olive tree cultivation in Southeast Spain has been studied, using a participatory qualitative methodology. The results show a series of seven principal barriers (information, costs, risk aversion, characteristics of the farm and sustainable practices, macro factors, and cultural barriers) and five facilitators (technology, farmer training, awareness, incentives, and social pressure) for the adoption of the proposed sustainable agricultural practices. The principal political and legislative actions proposed to increase the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices include: administrative control, fostering environmental awareness, technical knowledge, and on-farm demonstrations; and, on the economic and financial level, incorporation of both general incentives and subsidizing specific costs. This study contributes to the development and discussion of intervention proposals that are designed to stimulate the implementation of sustainable practices in agricultural soil management.
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