Most of the world poorest come from rural areas and depend on their immediate surroundings. Understanding mechanisms that give rise to and preserve poverty poses a great challenge and opportunity for research, policy making and development. Links between low soil quality and persistent poverty have already been observed and presented in literature, see  and . We argue that the soil quality, locally available nutrients and water are important, but not the only determinants of livelihood and possibility to escape from poverty for the rural poor. Changes in habits, effects of fertilizers and chemicals on soil quality, and sequencing of interventions can have a significant, or even decisive role for success of poverty alleviation strategies. To support our claims, we set up multidimensional poverty trap models, which include both economic aspect of growth and ecological assumptions on soil quality, water and nutrient cycling. As such, they allow us to tackle inherent complexities of a social-ecological system to a greater degree, reveal causal relations between its elements, and test consequences of different alleviation strategies. Certain insights, such as the long-term inefficiency of the big push under poor water conditions, or necessity of behavioural changes alongside external capital inputs, can be used by policy makers and developing agencies for making informed choices.