Main authors: Gergely Tóth, Xiaodong Song, Brigitta Tóth,Tamás Kismányoky, Oihane Fernandez-Ugalde
Editor: Jane Brandt
Source document: Tóth, G. et al. (2017) Spatial analysis of crop systems in relation to pedoclimatic conditions in Europe and China. iSQAPER Project Deliverable 2.3 34 pp


Land users need to optimize their cropping patterns, cropping systems and their farming systems as a whole for the prevailing ecological conditions. Most scientists and farmers are involved in the promotion of sustainable agriculture for the creation of an agriculture that maintains productivity in the long term, by optimizing the use of locally available resources, including climatic and edaphic resources, relying on nutrient recycling, reducing the use of external and non-renewable input. Improving the synergies between soil quality and cropping patterns can secure long-term sustainability of production.

In many countries and in recent years there has been a tendency towards cereal grain stagnation and increased yield variability. Some of these trends may have been influenced by the recent climatic changes over Europe. For many environmental zones, there were clear signs of deteriorating agro climatic conditions in terms of increased drought stress and shortening of the active growing season, which, in some regions become increasingly squeezed between a cold winter and a hot summer.

Climatic changes in general are likely to shift the zonation of optimal production areas for specific crops within the EU. Temperature increases tend to speed the maturation of annual crops, thereby reducing their total yield potential. The combination of zonal shift and productivity changes may affect the total agricultural output of the EU and its share of international commodity trade.

The most negative effect of climate change is projected for agriculture in continental climate region. In Europe this covers the Pannonian zone, which includes Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. This region is projected to suffer from increased incidents of heat waves and drought, without possibilities for effectively shifting crop cultivation to other parts of the year. Although there is little opportunity to adapt rainfed production in this zone, there may be some scope for the introduction of new crops (AEA2007, Németh, L. 2008). For most other climate zones the projections show a marked need for adaptive measures to either increase soil water availability or drought resistance of crops. Rainfed agriculture is likely to face more climate-related risks, although the agroclimatic conditions analysed will probably remain at a level that should permit rainfed production. (Olesen, 2011, Trnka M.2011). However, the conditions of rainfed productions will be in the suboptimal trend.

Consequently, strategies need to be developed to adopt cultivars or crops better suited to water and heat stress. Problems from new pests and diseases are also considered a high risk as the climate changes. Higher diversity of a crops leads to less risk from the viewpoint of climatic stress and less financial risk too.

Consideration of ecological conditions, including soils, is key to the success and sustainability of farming. However, so far little scientific research has been made to assess the relationship between soil quality and composition of crops in Europe, China and globally.

The information in this section of iSQAPERiS aims to fill this information gap and is targeted to reveal the relationship between cropping practices and soil conditions in Europe (and China). In this analysis we considered the experiences from previous projects (ECOFinders, RECARE, MyWater, CATCH-C, D-e-METER), which dealt with soil productivity, crop requirements, water availability and climatic suitability. Soil quality, including water management and nutrient availability is an essential property of soil types, therefore we performed our analysis based on soil types. To enable integrated analysis of complexity in the climate-soil-crop system, cropping pattern by soil types were assessed in the main climate zones. Our analysis focused on land-based agriculture, i.e. large scale open-air arable farming.


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