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Innovation hubs for evaluation and adoption of soil improving cropping systems

Applicant Charles Raphaël
Number 161902
Funding scheme NRP 68 Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource
Research institution Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau (FiBL)
Institution of higher education Research Institute of Organic Agriculture - FiBL
Main discipline Agricultural and Forestry Sciences
Start/End 01.01.2016 - 31.12.2017
Approved amount 429'136.00
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Keywords (16)

farm network; conservation agriculture; innovation hub; soil improving cropping systems; soil functions; soil tillage; crop rotation; soil structure; soil fertility; soil resistance; soil carbon; microbial biomass; arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi; microbial diversity; soil management; future agroecosystems

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Les systèmes de culture améliorant le sol visent à pérenniser les fonctions des sols. Ces pratiques sont fondées sur les principes de l'agriculture de conservation ou de l'agriculture biologique. L'objectif de ce projet consiste à développer un ensemble d'instruments pour évaluer l’efficacité réelle de ce type de systèmes innovants. Cependant, la recherche a besoin d'un cadre approprié. Pour cette raison, cette étude se déroule on-farm et mobilise des agriculteurs pionniers en la matière.
Lay summary

Laconstruction d'un réseau réunissant ces pionniers, sous forme de pôlesd'innovation, permettra de comprendre dans quelle mesure ces pratiquescontribuent efficacement à la protection du sol et de ses fonctions, de quelle façonceci est atteint, et comment cela peut être généralisé à d'autres exploitations.Dans une approche multidisciplinaire et multi-acteurs, nous allons évaluer leseffets de ces systèmes sur une gamme de paramètres agronomiques (par exemple, lerendement), économiques (revenu par hectare), abiotiques (structure du sol,fertilité des sols, résistance du sol, carbone du sol) et biotiques (biomassemicrobienne, champignons mycorhiziens, diversité microbienne). L'objectifglobal consiste à développer un ensemble d'instruments pour évaluer cespratiques innovantes, ainsi que des stratégies pour une mise en œuvre pluslarge dans l'agriculture suisse. Environ 60 parcelles agricoles réparties danstoute la Suisse seront comparées. Ce projet permettra de tester si des systèmesde culture peuvent être appliqués pour promouvoir les fonctions du sol, leur biodiversitéet l'accumulation de carbone sans impacts négatifs sur le rendement descultures et le revenu par hectare.

Dans la mesure où l'étude est basée sur de nombreusesexploitations, les résultats seront généralisés pour des recommandations degestion du sol applicables par les acteurs agricoles en Suisse. Les résultatsde ce projet pourront également aider à concevoir un ensemble d'outilspermettant d'évaluer l’état du sol comme une ressource centrale de futursagroécosystèmes. Ces pôles d'innovation serviront de plates-formes d'échangepour la mise en œuvre de systèmes de culture innovants. Un référencement précisdes champs et l'archivage des échantillons de sol visent à développer des pôlesd'innovation sur le long terme.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 08.02.2016

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Soil improving cropping systems (SICS) aim at sustaining soil functions. These practices are based on conservation agriculture or organic agriculture principles. The objective of this project consists in developing a set of instruments for assessing the effective efficiency of these innovative systems. However, research needs an appropriate framework. Therefore, this study takes place on-farm and mobilize pioneer farmers in this area.
Lay summary

The building of a network mobilizing these pioneers, i.e. the formation of innovation hubs, will help to understand to which extent these practices contribute effectively to soil protection and functions, how it is achieved, and how it can be extended to other farms. Here, in a multidisciplinary, multi-actor approach we will evaluate the effects of SICS on a range of agronomic (e.g. yield), economic (income per hectare), abiotic (soil structure, soil fertility, soil resistance and soil carbon) and biotic parameters (microbial biomass, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, microbial diversity). The overall objective consists in developing a set of instruments for assessing SICS and strategies for a broader implementation of SICS in Swiss agriculture. About 60 arable fields distributed throughout Switzerland will be compared. This project will test whether SICS can be used to promote soil function, soil biodiversity, and carbon accumulation without negative impacts on plant yield and income per hectare.

Because the study is based on many farms, results will be generalized to make recommendations for appropriate soil management to be used by Swiss agricultural actors. The results of this project will also help design a set of tools allowing to evaluate the health of soil as a central resource for future agroecosystems. These innovation hubs will serve as exchange platforms for the implementation of innovative SICS. A precise referencing of fields and the archiving of soil samples aim at developing innovation hubs available on the long term.

 

 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 08.02.2016

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
German soil research initiative BonaRes “Soil as a Sustainable Resource” 26-28 February, Berlin 2018. Talk given at a conference How to manage our land: soil multifunctionality in an agricultural context. 26.02.2018 Berlin, Germany Six Johan; Colombi Tino; Mayer Jochen; Walder Florian; van der Heijden Marcel; Charles Raphaël; Hess Julia; Keller Thomas; Büchi Lucie; Hirte Juliane;
Exploratory Workshop on Sustainable intensification of agriculture: Challenges in Soil Science confronting Global Food Security. Uppsala, Sweden (30-31 Talk given at a conference An underground revolution: Biodiversity & soil ecological engineering for agricultural sustainability. 30.01.2018 Uppsala, Sweden Colombi Tino; Keller Thomas; van der Heijden Marcel;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Cours Grandes Cultures Bio Talk 06.02.2018 Moudon, Switzerland Charles Raphaël;
Cours Grandes Cultures Bio Talk 30.01.2018 Cernier, Switzerland Charles Raphaël;
Atelier de restitution des résultats Workshop 01.12.2017 Agroscope Changins, Switzerland Charles Raphaël; Suss Hélène; Büchi Lucie;
BDU (Beratungsgruppe Boden Düngung) Herbsttagung 2017 Talk 29.11.2017 Olten, Switzerland Keller Thomas;
Borgeby Fältdagar, Pre-event Talk 27.06.2017 Borgeby, Sweden Keller Thomas;
Journée du semis direct - Swiss No-Till Talk 17.01.2017 Gampelen - Witzwil, Switzerland Charles Raphaël;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Hubs46 Farmers Workshop 18.12.2017 Zürich, Switzerland

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
143061 Biophysical processes controlling restoration of compacted soil structure - long-term soil structure observatory and mechanistic studies 01.07.2013 NRP 68 Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource
143060 Agricultural management and below ground carbon inputs - Sustaining soil quality 01.03.2013 NRP 68 Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource
158394 Climate-Cafe: Climate Change Adaptability of Cropping and Farming Systems for Europe 01.01.2015 FACCE Joint Programming Initiative
185273 Ground-nesting of wild bees - key drivers, impacts of agricultural soil management and consequences on bee reproductive success and soil functions 01.12.2019 Project funding (Div. I-III)
188799 Microbiome complexity and microbial keystone taxa as drivers of agro-ecosystem functioning 01.04.2020 Project funding (Div. I-III)
143063 Cover crops for conservation agriculture (CC4CA) 01.06.2013 NRP 68 Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource
143097 Recruitment limitation in soil? Restoring soil ecosystem functioning and sustainability by introducing below ground mutualists 01.02.2013 NRP 68 Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource
154247 COMET-Global: Whole-farm GHG estimation and environmental diagnostic platform 01.01.2014 FACCE Joint Programming Initiative

Abstract

Since the beginning of agriculture, soils have been transformed, exploited, and degraded. It is now acknowledged that a new approach for agriculture is necessary since agricultural soils are an essential and limited resource. Soils have to be managed in a more sustainable way. Innovative practices, such as soil improving cropping systems (SICS), allow to sustain soil functions. However, research needs an appropriate framework to assess the real efficiency of SICS. On-station field trials have their value in this assessment, but they also have their drawbacks and simplifications (factorial approach, time limited, generality). On-farm research constitutes a solution to be explored, since some farmer pioneers have developed SICS for a long time and provide reliable systems that are feasible and have shown their potential. The building of a network mobilising these pioneers, i.e. the formation of innovation hubs, will help to understand to which extent these practices contribute effectively to soil protection and function, how it is achieved, and how it can be extended to other farms. Here, in a multidisciplinary, multi-actor approach we will evaluate the effects of SICS on a range of agronomic (e.g. yield), economic (e.g. income per hectare), abiotic (soil structure, soil fertility, soil resistance and soil carbon) and biotic parameters (microbial biomass, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, microbial diversity). The overall objective consists in developing a set of instruments for assessing SICS and strategies for a broader implementation of SICS in Swiss agriculture. This proposal integrates four phase 1 projects ("Cover crops", "Carbon input", "Soil compaction" and "Mycorrhiza") and two FACCE-JPI projects ("Climate-CAFE" and "COMET-global"). Knowledge from these individual projects will be combined and 60 arable fields distributed throughout Switzerland will be compared. Eighty percent of the fields will be managed with SICS (e.g. conservation tillage) while the other 20% will act as reference and will be traditionally ploughed and managed. This project will test, based on a large number of fields, whether SICS can be used to promote soil function, soil biodiversity, and carbon accumulation without negative impacts of SICS on plant yield and income per hectare. Because the study is based on many farms, results can be generalized and can be used to make recommendations for appropriate soil management to be used by Swiss agricultural actors. The results of this project will also help design a set of tools allowing to evaluate the health and sustainability of soil as a central resource for future agroecosystems. These innovation hubs will serve as exchange platforms for the implementation of innovative SICS. A precise referencing of fields and the archiving of soil samples aim at developing sustainable innovation hubs.
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