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STAMINA
Stability and mitigation of arable systems in hilly landscapes

Meaningful indicators for the vulnerability of production systems are needed to support a Common Agricultural Policy towards sustainable development. In the European Union, 15% to 50 % of arable land is located on slopes, where yield losses may range from 30% to 90 % due to erosion, drought, frost and heat. Climatic variation is to increase the instability of such production sites. Predictive tools are being developed to assess the risks and adaptation capacity to avoid abandoning. The work will improve an integrated assessment tool by explicitly modelling the variation of the physical environment and its effects on crop growth. The principal components, digital terrain model outputs (DTM) and soil-crop models (SCM) will be evaluated at different scales. In support of regional land use evaluation and strategy, thematic maps and probabilities will be generated for actual weather and climate change scenarios in less favoured areas in the EU. A risk communication platform will be created to transfer the knowledge into the public and improve the design of the assessment tool.

Objectives
The aim is to develop an integrated system of physically-based simulation tools further and provide an indicator-based evaluation scheme for arable agriculture under sub-optimal conditions. The key objectives are:
1) to quantify and model differentiate local water and energy balance according to slope, aspect and altitude applying micro-meteorological models (MM)
2) to integrate improved simulation routines for soil-crop model (SCM) to account for spatial effects and extreme events at the meso-scale
3) to up-scale MM using a digital terrain model (DTM) in different terrain
4) to integrate models (MM, DTM, and SCMs) via GIS to derive agro-ecological indicators for cropping systems to evaluate management, policy and climate scenarios.

Progress to Date
The project has concluded its first year with experimental campaigns in Italy and the United Kingdom. Spatially distributed field trials were conducted in Durum wheat (IT) and sugar beet (UK). Special emphasis was put onto the monitoring of crop establishment and drought stress indicators. The latter found favourable conditions in the UK due to extreme drought. Both experiments were accompanied by a detailed study on transpiration and evaporation fluxes (eddy covariance method). All these data are under evaluation.
Parallel to the fieldwork, a modelling framework has been designed using unified modelling language (UML). Subroutines and modules of emergence and crop establishment as well as modules for thermal stress and thermal crop water stress have be outlined and coded.
With respect to the use of agro-ecological indicators in policy-making and practical application, a principal paper has been published with the OECD Joint Working Group.

Results
1) All resources, logistics and experimental methods were established, and the experimental work went as planned. Problems with commercial software were resolved but caused a 3-month delay of evaluation.
2) Historical and new experimental data were collated, and these data are available in a database accessible to all partners.
3) New data (e.g. energy fluxes, emergence and crop temperature) have undergone an initial evaluation and been used to evaluate the new simulation tools.
4) UML was established as a framework to structure and link simulation modules, database and user requests.
5) A new code was developed in 3D energy, water flux and emergence. This will be finalised in the first half of the second year and used to evaluate experimental data.
6) The new codes are being integrated into Soil-Crop dynamics Model (SCM), which has been coded, based on SUCROS using UML.
7) A three-stage process has been outlined, integrating the new MM code into the SCM, linking MM/SCM to topographic variables, and running MM/SCM with an up-scaled (DTM-derivatives) energy and water balance.
8) Historical data analysis identifies slopes as a significant risk constituent in Romanian crop production during 1964-2000. Detailed analysis of ten experimental sites over a 15-year period (1975-1990) showed that wheat was more at risk on north sloping fields (frost damage). Maize was more at risk on south facing slopes (drought risk).
9) Target groups of stakeholders and users were defined and identified and a communication platform was established by contacting selected groups.

Classified in ARABLE CROPS, SOIL, CAP AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, QUANTITATIVE APPROACHES AND MODELLING

Scientist responsible for the project

Dr GOETZ RICHTER
Rothamsted Research
AL5 2JQ Harpenden
United Kingdom (The) - GB

Phone: +44 1582 763133
Fax: +44 1582 769222
E-mail: goetz.richter@bbsrc.ac.uk

References

Project ID QLRT-2001-01313
Organisation Rothamsted Experimental Station
Area 5.1.1
Start date 01 October 2002
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 1 395 088 €
Total EC contribution   1 008 632 €
Status Ongoing
Web address of the project   http://www.rothamsted.bbsrc.ac.uk/aen/stamina/index.htm

The partners

  • INSTITUTUL DE CERCETARI PENRU PEDOLOGIE SI AGROCHIMIE (RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR SOIL SCIENCE AND AGROCHEMISTRY), Romania - RO
    c.simota@icpa.ro
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