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Cover crops for conservation agriculture (CC4CA)

English title Cover crops for conservation agriculture (CC4CA)
Applicant Streit Bernhard
Number 143063
Funding scheme NRP 68 Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource
Research institution Hochschule für Agrar-, Forst- und Lebensmittelwissenschaften HAFL Berner Fachhochschule BFH
Institution of higher education Berne University of Applied Sciences - BFH
Main discipline Agricultural Engineering
Start/End 01.06.2013 - 30.11.2016
Approved amount 674'048.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Agricultural Engineering
Pedology

Keywords (7)

Plant nutrients; Soil fertility; Precision agriculture; Weed control; Conservation tillage; Cover crops; Conservation agriculture

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Konservierende Anbausysteme steigern die Produktivität der Landwirtschaft und tragen gleichzeitig zum Schutz der Felder bei. So bedecken Gründüngungskulturen den Boden zwischen zwei Hauptkulturen, fördern die Bodenfruchtbarkeit, verbessern die Verfügbarkeit von Pflanzennährstoffen und unterdrücken Unkräuter. Das Team um Bernhard Streit und Raphaël Charles untersucht, welche Ansprüche einzelne Gründüngungskulturen an den Standort stellen und welche Leistungen sie erbringen.
Lay summary

Konservierende Anbausysteme steigern die landwirtschaftliche Produktivität und tragen gleichzeitig zum Schutz der Felder bei. Wichtig für den langfristigen Erfolg sind dabei: wenig oder gar keine Bodenbearbeitung, permanente Bodenbedeckung und vielseitige Fruchtfolgen. Eine wichtige Rolle spielen Gründüngungskulturen. Sie bedecken den Boden zwischen zwei Hauptkulturen, fördern die Bodenfruchtbarkeit, verbessern die Verfügbarkeit von Pflanzennährstoffen und unterdrücken Unkräuter. Sie haben zwar kaum direkten Einfluss auf das Einkommen der Landwirte, doch werden die Produktivitätsaspekte meist übersehen.

Im Rahmen des Projekts werden mittels Feldversuchen und Modellierungen die bisher nur ungenügend bekannten Standortansprüche und die agronomischen Leistungen möglicher Gründüngungsarten und deren Mischungen erforscht. Zudem untersucht das Forschungsteam die Wechselbeziehungen der Gründüngung mit den Hauptkulturen sowie mit Bodenfunktionen. Dadurch werden die Eigenschaften der verschiedenen Gründüngungskulturen in Bezug auf die nachhaltige Nutzung des Bodens sichtbar gemacht. Die Ergebnisse sollen möglichen Nutzerinnen und Nutzern in einer Datenbank zur Verfügung stehen.

Die Untersuchungen erweitern das Wissen über die Eigenschaften und den gezielten Einsatz von Zwischenkulturen, speziell in konservierenden Anbausystemen. Das Projekt leistet damit einen Beitrag zur Sicherung der Ernährungsgrundlage bei gleichzeitiger Schonung des Bodens.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 31.05.2013

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Les systèmes culturaux de conservation du sol augmentent la productivité agricole tout en contribuant à la protection des champs. Les cultures d’engrais verts recouvrent le sol entre deux cultures principales, stimulent la fertilité du sol, améliorent la disponibilité des nutriments des plantes et préviennent l’apparition des mauvaises herbes. Avec leur équipe, Bernhard Streit et Raphaël Charles étudient les exigences d’habitat des cultures d’engrais verts et les services qu’elles offrent.
Lay summary

Les systèmes culturaux de conservation du sol augmentent la productivité agricole tout en contribuant à la protection des champs. La clé d’un succès à long terme réside dans les éléments suivants: peu ou pas de travail du sol, couverture permanente du sol et assolements variés. Les cultures d’engrais verts jouent un rôle important. Elles recouvrent le sol entre deux cultures principales, stimulent la fertilité du sol, améliorent la disponibilité des nutriments des plantes et préviennent l’apparition des mauvaises herbes. Si elles n’ont pratiquement aucune incidence directe sur le revenu des agriculteurs, les gains qu’elles permettent en termes de productivité ne sont cependant pas assez soulignés.

À travers des essais en plein champ et des modélisations, le projet étudie les exigences d’habitat, qui sont encore mal connues aujourd’hui, ainsi que les services agronomiques de différentes espèces d’engrais verts et de leurs mélanges. L’équipe de recherche se penche également sur les interactions des engrais verts avec les cultures principales et les fonctions du sol. Elle expose ainsi les propriétés des cultures d’engrais verts par rapport à l’utilisation durable du sol. Les résultats doivent être mis à la disposition des utilisateurs potentiels dans une base de données.

L’étude enrichit les connaissances sur les propriétés et l’utilisation ciblée des cultures intermédiaires, notamment dans l’agriculture de conservation du sol. Le projet contribue ainsi au maintien de la production alimentaire de base et à la préservation du sol.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 31.05.2013

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Conservation agriculture increases farming productivity and contributes to protecting fields at the same time. Cover crops cover the ground between two main crop periods, promote soil fertility, improve availability of plant nutrients and suppress weeds. The team of Bernhard Streit and Raphaël Charles are examining the demands that individual cover crops place on the habitat, and the benefits that they provide.
Lay summary

Conservation agriculture increases farming productivity and contributes to protecting fields at the same time. Important factors for long-term success are: little or no soil tillage, permanent soil cover and varied crop rotation. Cover crops play an important role. They cover the ground between two main crop periods, promote soil fertility, improve availability of plant nutrients and suppress weeds. They have hardly any effect on the farmer's income, but productivity aspects are mostly overlooked.

This project entails using field experiments and modelling to investigate the demands on the habitat, about which little has been known until now, and the agronomic benefits of various types of crop cover systems and mixes. The research team will also be investigating the correlation between crop cover systems and both the main crops and soil functions. The properties of the various cover crops in relation to sustainable use of the soil will be revealed. The results should make it possible to provide a database for possible users.

The experiments will extend knowledge on the properties and the specific use of intermediate crops, especially in conservation agriculture. The project will therefore contribute to safeguarding the nutrient base while at the same time protecting the soil.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 31.05.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Accumulation of biologically fixed nitrogen by legumes cultivated as cover crops in Switzerland
(2015), Accumulation of biologically fixed nitrogen by legumes cultivated as cover crops in Switzerland, in Plant and Soil.
Introduction of no till in a long term experiment on soil tillage in Switzerland
(2015), Introduction of no till in a long term experiment on soil tillage in Switzerland, in Aspects of Applied Biology.
Nutrient accumulation by cover crops with different root systems
(2015), Nutrient accumulation by cover crops with different root systems, in Aspects of Applied Biology.
Méthode non destructive d'estimation de la biomasse et des nutriments de couverts végétaux
(2013), Méthode non destructive d'estimation de la biomasse et des nutriments de couverts végétaux, in Recherche Agronomique Suisse.
Screening of legumes as cover crops: Nitrogen and weeds | Beurteilung von leguminosen als gründüngungspflanzen: Stickstoff und begleitflora
(2013), Screening of legumes as cover crops: Nitrogen and weeds | Beurteilung von leguminosen als gründüngungspflanzen: Stickstoff und begleitflora, in Agrarforschung Schweiz.
Integrating simulation data from a crop model in the development of an agri-environmental indicator for soil cover in Switzerland
, Integrating simulation data from a crop model in the development of an agri-environmental indicator for soil cover in Switzerland, in European Journal of Agronomy.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
INRA France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Swiss Soil Conservation Association (Swiss No-till) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Agrocope ART: Swiss Soil Monitoring Network Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
European Conservation Agriculture Federation (ECAF) Belgium (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Bernese Office of Agriculture and Nature, Soil Conservation Service Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
24ème assemblée annuelle de la Société Suisse d'Agronomie Talk given at a conference Nutrient accumulation by cover crops with different root and shoot characteristics 17.03.2016 Zollikofen, Switzerland Wendling Marina; Charles Raphaël; Walter Achim; Büchi Lucie;
Congrès annuel de la Société Suisse de Pédologie Poster Cover crop root system and nutrient accumulation 04.02.2016 Genève, Switzerland Charles Raphaël; Büchi Lucie; Walter Achim; Wendling Marina;
Getting the Most out of Cover Crops Talk given at a conference Nutrient accumulation by cover crops with different root systems 24.06.2015 Marston, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Wendling Marina;
Valuing long-term sites and experiments for agriculture and ecology Talk given at a conference Introduction of no till in a long term experiment on soil tillage in Switzerland 27.05.2015 Newcastle, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Charles Raphaël; Büchi Lucie;
International Conference on Soil Talk given at a conference Accumulation of biologically fixed nitrogen by legume cover crops in Switzerland 04.05.2015 Tirana, Albania Büchi Lucie;
International Conference on Soil Poster Effect of soil tillage on yield and soil properties in a long term experiment in Switzerland 04.05.2015 Tirana, Albania Büchi Lucie;
Xe colloque STICS Poster Intégration de données simulées par STICS dans un indicateur agro-environnemental de couverture du sol 24.03.2015 Rennes, France Büchi Lucie;
ESA XIIIth Congress Talk given at a conference Cover crops for conservation agriculture 25.08.2014 Debrecen, Hungary Wendling Marina; Charles Raphaël; Büchi Lucie;
ESA XIIIth Congress Poster Biological nitrogen fixation by cover crops 25.08.2014 Debrecen, Hungary Büchi Lucie; Charles Raphaël;
22èmes Rencontres professionnelles RITTMO Talk given at a conference Travail du sol et couverts végétaux 23.05.2014 Changins, Switzerland Charles Raphaël;
Comprendre le fonctionnement du sol dans l'écosystème: une approche systémique / Société Suisse de Pédologie Poster Screening de légumineuses pour couverts végétaux 13.02.2014 Changins, Switzerland Büchi Lucie; Charles Raphaël;
Comprendre le fonctionnement du sol dans l'écosystème: une approche systémique / Société Suisse de Pédologie Poster Cover crops for conservation agriculture CC4CA 13.02.2014 Changins, Switzerland Büchi Lucie; Charles Raphaël; Wendling Marina;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Journée Techniques de conservation du sol Talk 21.01.2016 Witzwil, Switzerland Charles Raphaël; Wendling Marina; Büchi Lucie;
Journée Couverts Végétaux Talk 30.09.2015 Aubonne, Switzerland Büchi Lucie; Charles Raphaël; Wendling Marina;
Life-HelpSoil Talk 24.06.2015 Riccagioia, Italy Charles Raphaël;
Visite étudiants ETHZ Talk 19.06.2015 Changins, Switzerland Charles Raphaël;
Journée Grandes cultures bio Talk 13.06.2015 Courtételle, Switzerland Charles Raphaël;
Flurbegehung Jubiläumsveranstaltung 20 Jahre Swiss No-till Talk 04.06.2015 Wiler b. Seedorf, Switzerland Streit Bernhard; Bauer Fabienne; Meugnier Claire;
Journée Grandes cultures bio Talk 12.01.2015 Moudon, Switzerland Charles Raphaël;
Journée Techniques de conservation du sol Talk 17.09.2014 Changins, Switzerland Charles Raphaël; Büchi Lucie; Wendling Marina;
Agridea Kurs: Ohne Pflug und Herbizid - geht das? Talk 10.09.2014 Zollikofen, Switzerland Streit Bernhard; Meugnier Claire; Bauer Fabienne;
Journée Grandes cultures bio Talk 12.06.2014 Schwand, Switzerland Charles Raphaël;
1ère Journée nationale Grandes cultures Talk 06.02.2014 Rütti, Switzerland Charles Raphaël;
Jahrestagung der Swiss No-till Talk 22.01.2014 Witzwil, Switzerland Meugnier Claire; Streit Bernhard; Bauer Fabienne;
Journée Techniques de conservation du sol Talk 11.09.2013 Vaux sur Morges, Switzerland Charles Raphaël;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Versuchsbesichtigung Studierende ETH 29.04.2016 Leuzigen, Switzerland
Flurbegehung, Versuchsbesichtigung 19.10.2015 Leuzigen, Switzerland
Flurbegehung mit australischen Landwirten 25.08.2015 Wiler b. Seedorf, Switzerland
Techniques de conservation du sol 02.06.2015 Changins, Switzerland
Versuchsbesichtigung Studierende Agronomie ETH 24.04.2015 Wiler b. Seedorf, Switzerland
Flurbegehung Versuche CC4CA 13.11.2014 Leuzigen und Wiler b. Seedorf, Switzerland
Mit Gründüngungen und konservierenden Anbausystemen die Umwelt schonen 13.11.2014 Seedorf, Switzerland
Journée Techniques de conservation du sol 17.09.2014 Changins, Switzerland
Flurbegehung CC4CA 16.04.2014 Wiler b. Seedorf und Ziegelried, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media 10 Tipps, mit weniger auszukommen DLZagramagazin International 2015
Media relations: radio, television Fin du labour et couvert végétal RTS La Première Western Switzerland 2015
Media relations: print media, online media Weizen in stehende Gründüngung gesät Schweizer Bauer German-speaking Switzerland 2015
Media relations: print media, online media Gründüngung unterdrückt Unkraut Schweizer Bauer German-speaking Switzerland 2014

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
161902 Innovation hubs for evaluation and adoption of soil improving cropping systems 01.01.2016 NRP 68 Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource

Abstract

Conservation agriculture (CA) practices are known to simultaneously enhance productivity and protection of soils. Minimum soil disturbance, diverse crop rotations, and permanent soil cover are key elements of this cropping system. Cover crops (CC) play an important role as they fill the gap between two main crops and, hence, may mobilize and recycle plant nutrients, control weeds, increase biodiversity, and improve soil structure and protection. CC are the sole crops totally dedicated to soil protection. They have rarely a direct impact on farmer’s income and research activities mostly disregard the perspectives of profitability. There is only little knowledge available on their quantitative potentials in the soil - crop system. Better understanding on their preferences on soil- and environmental parameters in the context of CA is a base for optimized CC development. Therefore, a multidisciplinary project is proposed to be carried out on the design of CC for CA, 1.) to propose novel CC for agroecological services in CA, design of soil tillage and CC combinations for CA, including different services linked to soil as a resource for agricultural production and direct profitability, 2.) to propose implantation techniques of CC on field level, including site and soil specific CC diversity and seeding technology in order to enhance efficiency of CA, and 3.) to develop tools for decision making in terms of CC species choice combined with cultivation techniques and to develop documentation for educational purposes. This project covers different Swiss agricultural contexts: taking into account the requirement of different production systems (from conventional to organic management) and varying pedoclimatic conditions. It will be organized in two work packages, covering screening and phenotyping CC diversity and services in CA systems as well as analysing CC development and the related profitability of CA systems at field level. In a communication package, the outcome of the work packages will be condensed to a decision making tool and communicated to the practice, extension, education, and research. The experimental work will be carried out at Agroscope Changins-Wädenswil (ACW) in Nyon and at the School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Science (HAFL) of the Bern University of Applied Sciences in close collaboration with the Institute of Agricultural Sciences (IAS) at ETH Zurich. Collaboration will take place with INRA on crop model STICS for simulations of long term trials (ACW, FiBL, Oberacker) and novel CC for CA. Joint field demonstrations and conferences will be organized with farmers organizations (CH No Till) and advisory services.
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