Sustainable land management practices
In this section of iSQAPERiS we present empirical evidence for the effects of agricultural management practices on soil quality, shared between farmers and scientists.
iSQAPER's 14 study sites are located in a range of pedo-climatic zones and farming systems in Europe and China. Stakeholders in the study sites (farmers, technical advisors, researchers and policy makers) have been central to the research programme. In consultation with these stakeholders, a number of promising sustainable agricultural management practices have been identified and evaluated in field trials. This and other sections of iSQAPERiS describe how these stakeholders have also been involved in the designing the functionality of SQAPP and in evaluating it during its development.
On the basis of a literature review and in consultation with local stakeholders, 18 promising agricultural management practices (AMPs) were selected for assessment in the 14 study sites. The impact of the practices on soil quality was evaluated using the »Visual soil and plant quality assessment methodologies. Of the 138 sets of paired control and AMP plots, management practices showed a positive impact on soil quality in 75% of cases. The most effective practices included crop rotation, manuring, composting and mulching. These promising AMPs are included in the database of 78 AMPs from which SQAPP draws its recommendations (see »What agricultural management practices are included in SQAPP?) [D5.2, D5.3]
Assessment of the 18 promising agricultural managment practices continued for a second growing season in 20 of the original 138 sets of paired control and AMP plots in the 14 study sites. The original visual soil assessment methods were extended and supplemented with laboratory based techniques. Correlations between visually and laboratory assessed soil quality parameters were established. The impact of a selection of AMPs on the 8 soil threats (erosion, compaction, salinisation, SOM decline, biodiversity, acidification, nutrient status, contamination) was assessed for most of the study sites. [D6.1]
In the final phase of iSQAPER, demonstrations events were organised in the the study sites to: present the major research findings to stakeholders; demonstrate and discuss management practices of proven benefit to soil quality; and demonstrate and discuss the local soil quality assessment and additional recommended management practices provided by SQAPP. [D6.4 additional]