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EUROTATE_N
Development of a model-based decision support system to optimise nitrogen use in horticultural crop rotations across Europe

Most fresh vegetables within Europe are produced in intensive rotations, which rely heavily on large inputs of nitrogen from fertiliser or organic sources to maintain the yield and quality of produce demanded by its customers. Most field vegetable crops use nitrogen inefficiently and often leave large residues of nitrogen (either as unused fertiliser or crop debris) in the soil after harvest, which can cause irreparable damage to soil, water and aerial environments.
However, recent research has shown that these environmental impacts can be reduced without loss of yield or quality by improved design of rotations and by more closely matching nitrogen supply to the demands of individual crops. This project will exploit these and other recent discoveries by developing a flexible integrated decision support tool, based on models and databases for nitrogen management and rotational planning in conventional and organic and other low input (sustainable) production systems. This will be used to compare the effects of different crop sequences and fertiliser and other cultural practices on the cycling of nitrogen within rotations for widely different conventional and organic production systems and climatic conditions across Europe.

Objectives
The overall aims of the project will be achieved by completing the following five objectives:

To compile and integrate recent theories and knowledge of soil-nutrient-crop-athmosphere interactions into a generic process-based model
To evaluate the effects of varying levels of N supply on product quality, likely revenue on sale and environmental impact
To assess the new decision support system for fitness of purpose to predict nitrogen losses across cropping rotations in Europe
To test the effectiveness of existing EU and national regulations on nitrate losses and industry sustainability at farm and policy level.

Progress to Date
The project website has been established, and three project newsletters published. Two full participant meetings were held in Spain and Denmark. Six out of the seven deliverables have been met.
Apart from some minor changes, all the sub-modules for the water module have been incorporated into the new module.
We have agreed the approach for an economics module and have begun programming.
Field experiments were set up and have been running. The data have been used to construct a new database for validation of the model.
Data on agricultural losses have been used to construct a new scenario database.

Classified in ARABLE CROPS, HORTICULTURE, SOIL, QUANTITATIVE APPROACHES AND MODELLING

Scientist responsible for the project

Dr CLIVE Rahn
Wellesbourne
CV35 9EF Warwickshire
United Kingdom (The) - GB

Phone: +44 1789 470382
Fax: +44 1789 470552
E-mail: clive.rahn@hri.ac.uk

References

Project ID QLRT-2001-01100
Organisation Horticulture Research International
Area 5.1.1
Start date 01 January 2003
Duration (months) 48
Total cost 3 664 759 €
Total EC contribution   2 299 080 €
Status Ongoing
Web address of the project   http://www.hri.ac.uk/eurotate

The partners

  • INSTITUTO VALENCIANO DE INVESTIGACIONES AGRARIAS, Spain - ES
    fjuste@ivia.es
  • BODEN- UND LANDSCHAFTSPFLEGE GMBH(SOIL AND LANDSCAPE SERVICE), Germany - DE
    bolap@t-online.de
  • INSTITUT FUER GEMUESE- UND ZIERPFLANZENBAU GROSSBEEREN / ERFURT E. V. (INSTITUTE OF VEGETABLE AND ORNAMENTAL CROPS), Germany - DE
    george@igzev.de
  • CONSEJO SUPERIOR DE INVESTIGACIONES CIENTIFICAS, Austria - AT
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