Study Site Trials 

 The SICS selected for trialling in this Study Site are described below:

Country General Treatment Category Study Site Trials
France Cover crops, sowing management, tillage

1. Early sowing of wheat (August vs September vs end of October) (2 or 3 treatments) -

2. Cover crops (oat vs mixed) (2 treatments);

3. Soil tillage and soil cover (3 treatments) mechanical weeding on cabbage (control) VS cabbage cover with straw

 

Study Site poster 2018, Study Site poster 2019

Wheatearlysowing CoverCrops
 Early sowing of wheat  Cover crops

 

The Study site consists of 2 areas in Brittany, namely the Semnon catchment area the Oust-Ninian catchment. These areas are presented separately below.

Semnon catchment area 

Geographical description

Semnon catchment area is localized at the south of Ille-et-Vilaine department, in the eastern part of Brittany. It size is around 495 km2 and 26. 000 hectares of total cultivated area. Semnon river is 73 km long. The geology of the area is quite homogeneous. It consists of alternating 2 types of schists, between which are intercalated sandstone and sandstone foundations.

The Semnon catchment descends west to its confluence with the Vilaine river, where its altitude is about ten meters. Its maximum altitude is about 100 meters, in the south-eastern part. The Semnon catchment is subject to an oceanic climate, with a gradient to a continental climate in the eastern part, with result in less continuous rains than in coastal areas.

SemnonLocationMap
 Location of the Semnon catchment area.

Pedo-climatic zone
Lusitanian/ Atlantic Central, Cambisol

Cropping systems

Cropping intensity
Semnon catchment area has 434 farms and it is mainly a dairy area. There are 18 organic farms on the area. FRAB and his local partner Agrobio35 are working on soils with more or less 12 farms in this area (organic and conventional)

Types of crop
Wheat, maize and grassland : the territory has mainly traditional dairy systems : grassland systems and maize based systems. Most of the farms of the territory grows cereals too. We can also find orchards.

Management of soil, water, nutrients and pests
There is no irrigation in this area. Management of soils and nutrients depends of the farms, whether they are in conventional or organic farming. GAB-FRAB network is trying to promote organic methods, as organic fertilisation, mechanical weeding, rotations…

Soil improving cropping system and techniques currently used
Biological pest management, green manure, organic fertilisers

Problems that cause yield loss or increased costs
Compaction, weeds, loss of soil fertility

External drivers and factors

Institutional and political drivers
In 1964, France, with the first water law, establishes a water management by catchment areas. This water management by catchment area is then reaffirmed by the European Framework Directive on “Water 2000” which requires all its member states in order to achieve good ecological status of waters by 2015. Catchment areas are coherent territories recognized by French and European laws.

Societal drivers
The western part of France (Brittany, Pays de la Loire, Normandie) is a traditional dairy area. Large dairy companies are located in this area. Organic farming and alternative growing methods are growing much for 10 years, driven by societal demand.

Bio-physical drivers
Annual climate hazards, due to climate change, are becoming stronger. This is a major problem for the cattle management, because food autonomy is threatened. Farms have to be more resilient to climate hazards. They are developing new approaches: innovative crops, new grass management methods…

Oust-Ninian catchment areas

Geographical description

“Oust moyen” and “Ninian” catchment areas are localized at the north of Morbihan department, in the center of Brittany. They are part of the largest catchment area called “Oust”.

Oust moyen size is around 390 km2 and 27. 000 hectares of total cultivated area. It counts 370km of rivers. Ninian size is around 340 km2 and 24. 000 hectares of total cultivated area. Is counts 280 km of water.
Altitude: From 225 m to 10 m more or less
Geology: the entire Oust catchment area is impermeable rock (55% schist and 30% sandstone)

Pedo-climatic zone
Lusitanian/ Atlantic Central, Cambisol

OustMoyenNinian 
 Location of the Ninian and Oust Moyen catchment areas.

Cropping systems

Cropping intensity
Oust and Ninian catchment areas have 1159 farms and it is mainly a dairy area. There are 38 organic farms on the area. FRAB and local partners Agrobio35 and GAB56 are working on soils with 10 farms in this area (organic and conventional).

Types of crop
Wheat, maize and grassland. The territory has mainly traditional dairy systems : grassland systems and maize based systems. Most of the farms of the territory grows cereals too. We can also find orchards.

Management of soil, water, nutrients and pests
There is no irrigation in this area. Management of soils and nutrients depends of the farms, whether they are in conventional or organic farming. GAB-FRAB network is trying to promote organic methods, as organic fertilisation, mechanical weeding, rotations.

Soil improving cropping system and techniques currently used
Biological pest management, green manure, organic fertilisers.

Problems that cause yield loss or increased costs
Compaction, weeds, loss of soil fertility.

 Study Site Trials

 The SICS selected for trialling in this Study Site are described below:

Country General Treatment Category Study Site Trials
Spain Cover crops, tillage, irrigation management

1. Desertification, wind erosion and organic matter decline

- Regulated vs Constant Deficit Irrigation and Minimum tillage in olive orchards;

-Regulated vs Constant Deficit Irrigation and Minimum tillage plus pruning residues added in olive orchards;

-Regulated vs Constant Deficit Irrigation and Minimum Tillage plus temporal cover crops (natural weeds and sowed) in olive orchards;

-Regulated vs standard irrigation and non-tillage (herbicide weed control) in peach orchards;

-Regulated vs standard irrigation and Non-tillage plus pruning residues added and temporal natural vegetation in peach orchards;

-Regulated vs standard irrigation and Non-tillage plus pruning residues and temporal cover crops sowed in peach orchards


Study Site poster 2018, Study Site poster Area A, 2019, Study Site poster Area B, 2019

OliveOrchard3lowres PeachOrchard
 Organic olive orchard  Peach orchard

Geographical description

The study site is located in the province of Almería (South East Spain,). The climate is arid (Mediterranean South). Rainfall is very scarce, always less than 300 mm per year. 

Area A is located in the Sorbas-Tabernas Basin The climate is semiarid thermo-Mediterranean with an average annual temperature of 17.8ºC and an average annual rainfall of 235 mm, which is among the driest areas in Europe. The pronounced regional semiarid climate in the SE Iberian Peninsula is determined by its geographical location, in the rainfall shadow of the main Betic ranges and the proximity of northern Africa. In the autumn, rainfall is associated with incoming fronts from the Mediterranean Sea, which sometimes results in storms and torrential rains. Most rainfall events are low magnitude and low intensity. The average minimum temperature is 4.1°C in the coldest month and an average maximum of 34.7°C in the hottest month. Daily amplitudes average 13.7°C in summer. Potential evaporation is around 4 to 5 times higher than annual precipitation.

Area B is located in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park. There the climate is semiarid warm Mediterranean. The mean annual temperature oscillates around 18-19ºC, and frosts are sporadic, occurring only on isolated days. Mean annual rainfall is approximately 220 mm per year, with prolonged summer droughts, strong inter- (larger than 30%) and intra-annual variations and 9 to 12 months in which precipitation is not sufficient to compensate for potential evapotranspiration. Annual potential evapotranspiration is around 1400 mm. 

Land uses include tree and annual crops cultivation, occasionally in protected structures (greenhouses and under mesh), pasturage (especially goat herds) and recreational activities (touristic uses, beaches in Cabo de Gata, and cinema in Tabernas area). Industry development is scarce and of composed by small enterprises. The exploitation of natural resources is regulated by the current zoning plan (PORN, 2008). Agriculture is one of the main activities, covering 26% of the park area. The abandonment of some agricultural areas and simultaneous intensification in certain others (i.e., water fed agricultural systems and greenhouses) are the main causes of degradation in the park.

StudySites  Orchards
 Almería map showing study sites and EC towers
location.
 Stone fruit orchards sited in Agua Amarga at bloom.

 Study Site Trials

 The SICS selected for trialling in this Study Site are described below:

Country General Treatment Category Study Site Trials
Czech Republic Tillage, fertilization

1. Tillage experiments and different N application - No till (all residues on surface); Reduced till (chisel ploughing up to 10cm-min 30% residues on soil surface); Conventional till (mouldboard ploughing up to 22 cm


Study Site poster 2018

Geographical description

Site: Prague – Ruzyně latitude 50°05’ N; longitude 14°20’ E; altitude 345 m; area 110 ha
Climatic region: T2, annual precipitation 472 mm; annual average temp. 7.9°C
Soil: brown earth modal, clay-loam, loess on, partially on the Cretaceous clay slate with a higher content of coarse dust and a lower content of clay particles; Orthic Luvisol (IUSS/ISTRIC/FAO (2006); clay-loamy texture, pH (KCl) 7.0, pH (H2O) 7.8; SOC 1.4%;
The site is a beet production area; available nutrients (extracted by Mehlich III method): P – 62 mg kg-1; K - 171 mg kg-1; Ca - 3446 mg kg-1; Mg – 114 mg kg-1; CEC – 227.6 mmol kg-1 ).

Pedo-climatic zone
Continental climate, brown soil (Luvisol)

Cropping systems

Cropping intensity
Conventional (production area)
Traditional (crop rotation, different fertiliser levels…)
Organic (without fertilizers and pesticides, improving crop rotation)

Types of crop
1. Tillage trial: 50% winter whet, 25% winter oilseed rape, 25% peas; sequence: rape-wheat-rape-wheat-peaswheat-peas-wheat
2. Fertilizer Long-term Trial: “Cereal Crop Rotation” (67% cereals, 11% root crops and 22% legumes in the crop rotation). The crop sequence was alfalfa, alfalfa, winter wheat, winter wheat, spring barley, potatoes, winter wheat, winter wheat and spring barley with alfalfa under-sowing.
3. Trial on Organic Farming: 33% legumes, 33% cereals, 33% buckwheat

Management of soil, water, nutrients and pests
There is no irrigation at this site.
1. Tillage trial: since 1995 three tillage practices: conventional tillage (CT = ploughing down to 22 cm), reduced tillage (RT = chisel ploughing of the surface soil layer to a depth of 10 cm), and no-tillage practices (NT = with crop residues left on the soil surface). All crop residues and side products are left on the field. Mineral fertilizers containing phosphorus (50 kg P2O5/ha, in Ammophos) and potassium (80 kg K2O/ha in Korn-Kali) were applied on the soil surface every year after harvest. Nitrogen fertilizers are applied during spring vegetation. Nitrogen dose is given with view to previous crop, Nmin. content in soil, expected production yield and required quality. Conventional pesticides are applied as needed in a given year.

2. Fertilizer Long-term Trial: Deep ploughing (28 cm) is applied before seeding of each crop in the autumn. Pesticides are used only if necessary, and growth regulators have never been used. In the experiment nitrogen mineral fertilizers are applied in four different levels (40-80 kg N/ha), phosphorus and potassium ones at two levels (26 and 35 kg P ha−1; 90 and 124 kg K ha−1). Two organic fertilizers were also used, straw and pig slurry mixed with straw (pig slurry + straw). Pig slurry was applied in the autumn before planting the root crops. The straw of cereals and the residues of other crops are removed from the plots.

3. Trial on Organic Farming: no fertilisers, no pesticides, soil improving crops are used.

Soil improving cropping system and techniques currently used
Soil improving operations and techniques used at study site:

  • Conservation tillage such as reduced or no-tillage. Leaving crop residues (or its part) on the soil surface e.g. limits soil erosion and water evaporation. These soil treatments lead to elevation of soil organic carbon content in the surface layer, improve soil structure etc.
  • Water infiltration and compaction of soil under different tillage has been measured in last years for estimation of risk of water erosion of soil.
  • If it is possible, convenient crop rotation systems are used, which include legume and other soil improving crops. Byproducts (post-harvest residues) are almost leaving on the fields owing to nutrients and organic matter recovery for sustainable soil fertility
  • Pesticides used with view to pests and diseases appearance in given year, in minimum needed dose not according to long-term planned methodology. 
  • Tillage trial only: new developed fertilizers are used; optimal term, dose and application method is tested for maximum nutrient efficiency and minimal losses and environmental impact.

Problems that cause yield loss or increased costs
There is a risk of unexpected climatic extremes in given year (e.g. drought, thunderstorm with hail, heavy rains) those can limit yields. Using improper technique leads to soil compaction. Decrease liming and organic fertilization in recent years causes decrease SOC and deterioration of the soil structure. The consequence of these effects is limited water infiltration into the soil, which results in erosion, water run-off

LTEs
 Long term experiments

External drivers and factors

Institutional and political drivers

  • Act No 156/1998 Coll., on fertilisers (+ Execution Decrees)
  • Act No 242/2000 Coll., on ecological farming
  • Government Regulation No 262/2012 Coll., on vulnerable zones (Nitrate directive)
  • Act No 334/1992 Coll., on agricultural fund protection

Societal drivers
Are there negative public views on "using of soil for non-food production (rape, maize - bio fuels)". Increasing public opposition elevates under oilseed rape. Pollen causes allergies, large quantities of pesticides used and the odour when rape freezes after winter bothers people. Despite this, yet there are no restrictions on oilseed rape in the CR.

Bio-physical drivers
Increasing frequency of droughts cause changes in the used varieties of crops, the intensity of tillage and nitrogen fertilization – application methods, doses, dates, fertilizer types.

Study Site Trials

The SICS selected for trialling in this Study Site are described below: 

Country General Treatment Category Study Site Trials
Sweden Sub soil loosening, tillage

1. Sub soil loosening - Sub soiling loosening; Sub soiling loosening with straw pellets; Normal mouldboard ploughing - control


Study Site poster 2018 (download)

 

Geographical description

The site is located in in the county Skåne in Southern Sweden (55o 49’ N, 13o 30’ E, altidue 75 m). Precipitation varies between 500 and 1000 mm per year. Mean temperature is around 0 °C in January and 16 °C in July. The area is relatively small (11 000 km2) but has a high population density; 1.275 million people. 900 000 of these are living near the coast in the South-West part, which also is the most intensive agricultural part. Soil types are clayey (ca. 15% clay or more). Focus in this study will be on Orup soil, a coarse-loamy, mixed, frigid, Aquic Haploboroll (Soil Taxonomy). The site is a sandy loam throughout the profile (0-100 cm) and non-calcareous. The subsoil (below 30 cm) is highly compacted which limits root penetration and thereby nutrient and water uptake from deeper soil layers. Orup soil is one of the Swedish long-term soil fertility sites run since 1956.

Pedo-climatic zone

The climate is cold-temperate and humid. The zone is: Nemoral. Soils are sandy loams.

Cropping systems

The number of farms in Skåne was 9337 in 2010, with 1147 larger than 100 ha; 417 were milk producers, while 6233 had no animal production. Most common crops in 2014 were ley (temporary grass; 102 300 ha), winter wheat (99 500 ha), spring barley (72 400 ha), rapeseed (45 800 ha) and sugar beets (32 900 ha).

Cropping intensity

Different cropping intensities from no fertilization to high fertilization rates are applied at the Orup site. Both treatments with and without animal manure are run. Rates of manure are in relation to yields provided by the cropping system. The site is treated according to conventional agricultural practices of the region.

LocationMap 
 The map of Skåne showing the Orup site marked by a red cross intended to be used for this study site

Types of crops
Two 4-year rotations are applied:
- crop rotation with livestock: barley, ley, winter wheat and sugar beets
- crop rotation without livestock: barley, oil seed rape, winter wheat and sugar beet.

Management of soil, water, nutrients and pests
Soil tillage includes yearly mouldboard ploughing, cultivation, fertilization, manuring, chemical weed and pest treatment. Crops are rain-fed and no catch crops to combat N leaching are grown.

Soil improving cropping system and techniques currently used
Measures include crop rotation, use of animal manure, no removal of crop residues in non-manured plots, and
regular lime application.

Problems that cause yield loss or increased costs
Soil compaction is a threat to crop production in agriculture, since it enhances harmful physical, chemical and biological processes, which lead to soil degradation. Driving heavy tractors and other machines that affects the subsoil during ploughing and harvesting is a major cause of subsoil compaction, which is not possible to adjust through tillage, but has a severe long-lasting impact on plant growth. This means that the problem is widespread in Europe. However, the problems may be even worse in Scandinavia, where soils are naturally compacted by land ice and the humid climate often means that rain events coincide with harvest. Schjønning et al. (2009) identified soil compaction as the greatest threat to agricultural productivity in Denmark.

Instead of using more inputs, we can increase crop yields by enabling use of a larger soil volume. To achieve this, conditions in the subsoil (layers below the topsoil) can be improved by mechanical loosening and long-term structure stabilisation through addition of waste materials such as paper mill waste, biochar, hydrothermally carbonised straw and composted wood bark. In addition to improving aggregate formation in subsoil, organic amendments increase the water holding capacity and can help to buffer conditions of drought. One farm where we have observed severe problems with soil compaction is Orup. This site belongs to our series of long-term field experiments (Kirchmann and Eriksson, 1993). Most of the problems with this soil is due to natural compaction, caused by the land ice thousands of years ago. Plants will hardly have any roots below 30 cm depth. This situation is common in this region and would most likely be possible to improve.

The Orup site is producing 20-40% lower yields than of comparable crops in the region. The primary reason is the inability of crops to penetrate the subsoil. Data in the table below illustrate prevailing soil physical conditions:

 Soil depth (cm)  Bulk density (kg dm-3)
0-30  1.55
30-40 1.61 
40-50 1.66
50-60 1.79
60-70 1.80
70-80 1.80
80-90 1.84
90-100 1.83

External drivers and factors

Institutional and political drivers
There are a number of political aims related to agriculture in Sweden. For example:
- to crop 20 % of the arable land according to organic farming practices;
- to take measures to reduce P leaching with 590 tons P from Swedish arable land to the Baltic Sea by 2020;
- to maintain and increase the biological diversity in the landscape through subsidies for animal grazing of non-arable land, etc.

Societal and bio-physical drivers
There are strong interest groups and commercial companies marketing organic food as a being superior to conventionally grown food. New dietary recommendations by the National Food Agency aim to reduce meat consumption. The size of farms continuously increases driven by low profitability. Demand for locally produced instead of imported fodder changes the proportions of certain crops in rotations. Demand for bioenergy often means straw removal followed by lower soil organic matter contents over time. Use of new crop varieties, for example sugar beet, enables farmers to increase yields drastically.