Responsible partner: »Estonian University of Life Sciences, Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (IAES) 
Authors: Endla Reintam, Alar Astover, Aret Vooremäe 
iSQAPERiS editor: Jane Brandt

 

Contents table
1. Infographics and videos
2. Study site description
3. Participation of stakeholders in the iSQAPER research programme
4. Research tasks
5. Long-term impact of iSQAPER's research programme in the study site

1. Infographics and videos

Please correct the translation: Tartumaa õppekoha meeskond tegi lühikese video ja infograafika, et kirjeldada piirkonna muldasid ja maakasutust ning seda, kuidas mitmed kohapeal kasutatavad majandamisviisid mulla kvaliteeti mõjutavad.

A series of short videos and infographics were made by the Tartumaa study site team to describe the soils and land use in the area and the way in which a number of locally used management practices benefit soil quality.

  Videod  Videos 

Please correct the translations

»Tartumaa õppekoht, Eesti
Vähem kui 20% Eesti territooriumist on põllumaa, kus peamiselt kasutatakse teravilja-, sööda- ja söödakultuure. Läänerannikul ja saartel on intensiivselt majandatud segapiima- ja põllundusettevõtted, aga ka alternatiivsed ja mahepõllundused.
(inglise keeles)

»Tartumaa study site, Estonia
Less than 20% of the territory of Estonia is arable land in which the dominant uses are cereals, forage and fodder crops. There are intensively managed mixed dairy and arable farms, but also alternative and organic farms on the west coast and islands.
(in English)

»Eesti mullad
Eesti mullad seisavad silmitsi paljude lagunemisprobleemidega, sealhulgas toitainete tasakaalustamata kasutamise, orgaaniliste ainete lagunemise, tihenemise, erosiooni ja hapestumisega.
(inglise keeles)
 

»Soils in Estonia
Estonian soils face a number of degradation problems including unbalanced use of nutrients, decomposition of organic matter, compaction, erosion and acidification.
(in English)

video 20 screenshot sq »Minimaalne maaharimine, EE
Minimaalset (või vähendatud) maaharimist on nüüd Eestis laialdaselt praktiseeritud. Sobivate külvikordade ajal suudab see säilitada pinnase struktuuri, parandada vee infiltratsiooni ja vähendada tihenemist, kütuse- ja tööjõukulusid.
(inglise keeles)
 

»Minimum tillage, EE
Minimum (or reduced) tillage is now widely practiced in Estonia. Within appropriate crop rotations it can maintain soil structure, improve water infiltration and reduce compaction, fuel and labour costs.
(in English)

video 21 screenshot sq »Mullaharimine, EE
Kasvatamata tehnoloogia peamised eelised on lühem tööaeg, kütusekulud ja tootmiskulud, aga ka parem mullastruktuur. Võrreldes minimaalse ja tavapärase maaharimisega on aga pestitsiidide, kahjurite ja haiguste suurem kasutamine.
(inglise keeles)
 

»No-tillage, EE
The main benefits of no-till technology are reduced working time, fuel costs and produce costs, but also better soil structure. However, there is increased use of pesticides, pests and diseases compared to minimum and convention tillage.
(in English)

  Infograafika Infographics
video 04 screenshot sq »Eesti maakasutus
Eestis on intensiivselt juhitud segafarmid, mis on keskendunud piimatootmisele ja taimekasvatusele, kuid on ka läänerannikul ja saartel paiknevaid alternatiivseid ja mahepõllundusettevõtteid, millel on pinnase kvaliteedile erinev mõju.
(inglise keeles)

»Land use in Estonia
In Estonia, there are intensively managed mixed farms focussed on dairy farming and crop production, but there are also alternative and organic farms located on the west coast and on the islands which have different impacts on soil quality.
(in English)

video 04 screenshot sq »Eesti mullad
Kesk- ja Lõuna-Eestis, kus asub iSQAPERi uuringupaik, on peamised mullatüübid Luvisols. Nende muldade lagunemisohud hõlmavad toitainete tasakaalustamata kasutamist, orgaaniliste ainete lagunemist, tihenemist, erosiooni ja hapestumist.
(inglise keeles)
 

»Soils of Estonia
In central and southern Estonia, where the iSQAPER study site is located, the main soil types are Luvisols. The degradation threats faced by these soils include unbalanced use of nutrients, decomposition of organic matter, compaction, erosion and acidification.
(in English)

video 04 screenshot sq »Põllumajandussõbralik majandamine Eestis - vähendatud maaharimine
Vähendatud (minimaalne) maaharimine on maaharimisviis, mis ei pööra mulda ümber; tavaliselt kallutatakse ainult mullapinna ülemist 10–18 cm. Eestis rakendati seda tehnoloogiat vähem kui 10 aastat tagasi ja juba 2/3 teraviljast kasvatatakse minimaalse maaharimise tehnoloogia abil.
(inglise keeles)
 

»Agricultural friendly management in Estonia - reduced tillage
Reduced (minimum) tillage is a tillage method that does not turn the soil over; usually, only the upper 10-18 cm of the soil surface is tilled. The technology was implemented in Estonia less than 10 years ago and already 2/3 of cereals are cultivated by minimum tillage technology.
(in English)

video 04 screenshot sq »Eestis harimatut põllumajandust
Põllukultuuride kasvatamine (mida nimetatakse ka nullharimiseks või otsekülviks) on viis kultuuride või karjamaa kasvatamiseks aastast aastasse, mullaharimise kaudu mulda häirimata.
(inglise keeles)
 

»No-till farming in Estonia
No-till farming (also called zero tillage or direct drilling) is a way of growing crops or pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage.
(in English)

 2. Study site description

Please edit this section: update and add a few photos

Location

Estonia is situated north-east of Europe located between 57°30′34″N to 59°49′12″N and from 21°45′ 49″E to 28°12′44″E. It is bounded on the north by the Gulf of Finland (an inlet of the Baltic Sea), on the east by Russia, on the south by Latvia, and on the west by the Baltic Sea (Figure 16). The mean air temperature in Estonia is +4.5–6.0°C, mean annual precipitation 600–700 mm and the vegetative period generally lasts for 170–185 days. The climate is Nemorial to Boreal. The amount of precipitation is more than two times higher than evapotranspiration. Snow cover is characterized by large spatial and temporal variations (75-135 days: from the beginning of January to the end of March). Estonian climatic conditions are favourable for mobilization of humus intensive biological weathering and turnover of substances in the plant–soil system.

SS10 1 SS10 2

Main farming systems and typical agricultural management activities in the study area

According to the FADN report (2012), on average 39% of the utilized agricultural area was under forage crops, 37% was used for the production of cereals, 10% was occupied by oilseed crops and 4% by other field crops, while 10% of the total land use was left fallow (Figure 17). More intensively managed farms can be found in Central Estonia (dairy and cereal) and alternative and organic farms can be found more on the west coast of Estonia and the Islands. There are mainly mixed types of farms in the study area, where the main income comes from animal husbandry and crop production. However, dairy farming or crop production specialized farms dominate, which can be both organically and intensively managed, are evident as well. Grasslands are mainly fertilized with slurry and mineral fertilizers in big farms and not fertilized at all in some small farms. The cutting intensity is on average 3 cuts per season. Crop rotations are based mainly on cereals (spring- and winter wheat, barley, oat), oil rape and red clover timothy mixture. Soil tillage is a mixture of conventional plough and reduced chisel-based; precision agriculture techniques are used.

Characteristic soils and soil quality monitoring practice

The soils are highly variable and are impacted by their parent material, texture, water regime and types. In Central and Southern Estonia where the study area is located, the main soil types are Luvisols with variable texture and calcareousness (Reintam et al., 2001). Grasslands are locating mainly on gleyic soils and Gleysols. The dominant soil texture is sandy loam.

There are 30 permanent agricultural soil survey points in Estonia, where the following measures are repeated at 5 yearly intervals:

  1. From the humus horizon: depth (cm), pHKCl, P, K, Ca, Mg, Cu, Mn, B (mg/kg), humus (%), C-org by Dumas (dry combustion), dry bulk density (g/cm3) and porosity (pF1.8), estimation of compactness.
  2. From the soil pits: horizons, their thickness (depth, cm), pHKCl, P, K, Ca, Mg, Cu, Mn, B (mg/kg), total-N (%), humus (%), C-org Dumas method (dry combustion), texture.

From 5 to 6 survey points per year, pesticide residues, heavy metals (Cd, Pb, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Zn) and soil biota (earthworms abundance, mass, species; microbial mass and respiration) are surveyed.

Previous research and innovation actions on soil improvement and monitoring

Current applied research in agriculture (financed by Estonian Ministry of Agriculture) in Estonia include:

  1. Conventional and organic management effect on soil fertility;
  2. Effect of intensity of tillage on slurry fertilized soils;
  3. Green manure plants effect on soil in conventional and organic farming;
  4. Alternative fertilisers use in conventional and organic farming;
  5. Use of soil map applications in agriculture;
  6. Bio waste compost use in agriculture;
  7. Development of humus balance model;
  8. Implementation of soil maps and databases for sustainable land use and agricultural production;
  9. Optimized habitat specific fertilization with plant nutrients according to the environment sensitivity by implementing electronic soil databases.

Since 2008, the soil compaction survey restarted in Estonia on 15 fields (repeated in 2013), where the typical parameters such as bulk density and texture, and the content of air filled pores at pF1.8 was measured.

3. Participation of stakeholders in the iSQAPER research programme

Please complete this table following the example in »Study site 6

The local stakeholders listed in Table 1 were involved throughout the duration of iSQAPER in a number of research tasks including: providing experimental sites for the soil quality assessment and agricultural management practice evaluation; testing and evaluating SQAPP; attending demonstration workshops; (and providing venues for and hosting the field visits for the iSQAPER plenary meeting).

Table 1: Local stakeholders involved in the iSQAPER research programme

Stakeholder type Locations Institution  Number and gender M/F Role
Farmers, land managers        
Advisors        
Policy-makers        
Researchers        

4. Research tasks

I have pre-filled some of the text for you taking material from the deliverables. So you can orientate yourself, I've indicated in blue which tasks each sub-section relates to. Please feel free to expand the text as necessary (and also include photos).

Soil quality assessment and agricultural management practice evaluation

Covering: Tasks 5.2, 5.3, 6.1, 6.3

Based on WOCAT database (www.wocat.net), iSQAPER selected 18 promising agricultural management practices (AMPs) with potential to improve soil quality (»Agricultural management practices in the iSQAPER study sites). Fourteen examples of a number of these AMPs were identified in the Tartumaa study site that conformed to the following criteria:

  1. the promising management practice has been implemented for at least 3 years;
  2. at least 2 different soil types are represented; and
  3. at least in 2 different first level Farming Systems (arable, permanent, grazing) are represented.

For each AMP plot, nearby control plots were also identified where the practice has not changed.

Table 2: AMPs identified in the Tartumaa study site. Climatic region: Boreal to sub-boreal

Plot number Farming system  Farming system detail Soil type AMP general description AMP number*
10.1 Pasture Intensive Luvisols Manuring & composting; Change of land use practices / intensity level 7-18
10.2 Pasture Intensive Luvisols Permanent soil cover / Removing less vegetation cover 3
10.3 Pasture Intensive Luvisols Permanent soil cover / Removing less vegetation cover; Manuring & composting 3-7
10.4 Arable Permanently irrigated land - Cereals Luvisols Permanent soil cover / Removing less vegetation cover; Manuring & composting 3-7
10.5 Pasture Intensive Luvisols Permanent soil cover / Removing less vegetation cover; Manuring & composting 3-7
10.6 Arable Permanently irrigated land - Cereals Luvisols Manuring & composting; Crop rotation / Control or change of species composition 7-9
10.7 Arable Permanently irrigated land - Cereals Cambisols Min-till; Crop rotation / Control or change of species composition 2-9
10.8 Arable Permanently irrigated land - Cereals Gleysols Min-till 2
10.9 Arable Permanently irrigated land - Cereals Luvisols Min-till 2
10.10 Arable Permanently irrigated land - Cereals Luvisols Min-till ; Crop rotation / Control or change of species composition 2-9
10.11 Arable Permanently irrigated land - Cereals Luvisols No-till 1
10.12 Pasture Intensive Histosols Permanent soil cover / Removing less vegetation cover 3
10.13 Pasture Extensive Histosols Permanent soil cover / Removing less vegetation cover 3
10.14 Arable Non- irrigated land - Cereals Luvisols No-till ; Crop rotation / Control or change of species composition 1-9

*Note: see »Assessing effect of management practices on soil quality - experimental framework for the full list and descriptions of the 18 promising agricultural management practices.

A first field campaign was conducted in 2016 to evaluate the soil quality in each of the paired AMP-control plots, using visual soil assessment methods (»Visual soil and plant quality assesment). The results from this and all the other study sites were combined to determine which AMPs can be shown to have a proven positive effect on soil quality, see »Assessing effect of management practices on soil quality - experimental results.

Those practices that are innovative for Estonia were also described and added to the WOCAT database

The soil assessment campaign was repeated in 2018 on the two paired plots highlighted in green in Table 2 (10.12: Permanent soil cover / Removing less vegetation cover and 10.14: No-till; Crop rotation / Control or change of species composition) with laboratory-based measurements added to the visual soil assessments. The aim was to investigate

  • how measurements of soil quality parameters obtained from the visual assessments compared to those obtained from laboratory measurements;
  • if different AMPs affected different soil quality parameters in different ways;
  • and what impact the AMPs had on the principal soil threats.

For details of the assessment analysis methods and the results from this and all study sites see »Impact of promising agricultural management practices.

As a result of this extended analysis, the example of No-till/ Crop rotation / Control or change of species composition that was exemplified in Plot 10.14 (which combined no-till with a different crop rotation including permanent cover and legumes in the rotation) was finally selected to demonstrate the positive impact management practice can have on soil quality (see »Demonstrations of recommended agricultural management practices in the study sites).

Estonia 10.14
Soil properties
Estonia 10.4 threat
Soil threats

This practice addresses soil compaction. The VSA results show a lower soil stability under the AMP but a better earthworm count and soil colour (and probably a better mottle score). All other soil structure quality indicators were the same as the control (which was conventially tilled with a different crop rotation). Measured bulk density is a little higher under the AMP but that does not seem to be directly tied to a loss of soil structure quality. Other measured properties show minimal differences from the control.

SQAPP development, testing and evaluation

Covering: Tasks 5.1, 4.3, 4.4, 6.2, 6.4

The beta version of SQAPP was evaluated by stakeholders at 3 locations in Estonia. Participants were asked a series of questions relating to their expectations of SQAPP and the relevance of the soil parameters included in SQAPP, the assessment of soil threats and the suitability of the app's recommendations to their local context. The feedback and comments were combined with those from the other study sites and used in the further development of SQAPP. For details of the responses from all study sites see »Stakeholder feedback and SQAPP development

Demonstration workshops

Covering: Task 6.4

On 13 September 2019 a demonstration event was organised in the village of Meeri in Tartu county to present the major findings of iSQAPER to stakeholders and to demonstrate no tillage and direct seeding as a management practice of proven benefit to soil quality. The event was attended by 72 participants.

The results from this demonstration event and those held in the other study sites are summarised in »Demonstrations of recommended agricultural management practices in the study sites.

A leaflet describing no tillage and direct seeding was prepared to accompany the demonstrations.

AMP SS10 EE a AMP SS10 EE a AMP SS10 EE b AMP SS10 EE b

 »Otsekülv (direct seeding), Estonia

Co-development of scenarios of future farm and soil management practices

Task 7.3

Did you attend the workshop? If not, delete this section.

Members of the Tartumaa study site team attended and contributed to the workshop in Madrid on developing scenarios of future farming. The results are presented in »Soil management scenarios

4. Long-term impact of iSQAPER's research programme in the study site

Please complete this table following the example in »Study site 6

Taking account discussions with the stakeholders and feedback from the various research tasks and events in which they took part, it is anticipated that the iSQAPER research programme could have a lasting legacy in the Tartumaa study site as indicated in Table 3.

Table 3: Activities in which iSQAPER's research programme could potentially have a lasting impact in the Tartumaa study site

Activity Impact level: 0 - no impact, 1 - barely noticeable to 5 - important visible impact     
0 1 2 3 4 5
Research results influencing farming practice            
Uptake of recommended AMPs            
Regular use of SQAPP            
Development of new or enhancement of existing stakeholder networks            
The involvement of new stakeholder types in existing networks            
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