Responsible partner:
»University of Ljubljana (UL)
Authors: Matjaž Glavan, Marina Pintar, Rok Mihelič
iSQAPERiS editor: Jane Brandt

 

Contents table
1. Infografike in videi/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. Infografike in videi/Infographics and videos

Za študijsko območje Ljubljanskega polja smo pripravili serijo krajših videov in infografik, ki opisujejo izvajanje številnih lokalnih praks, ki koristijo kakovosti tal. Večino videov so posneli študenti in vsebujejo intervjuje s kmeti deležniki, ki imajo številne praktične izkušnje s predstavljenimi kmetijskimi praksami.

A series of short videos and infographics were made by the Ljubljansko polje study site team to describe the way in which a number of locally used management practices benefit soil quality. Several of the videos were made by students and contain interviews with stakeholder farmers experienced with using the practices.

  Videoposnetki  Videos 
video 13 screenshot sq »Prednosti uporabe posevkov, SI
Ker imajo veliko število pozitivnih lastnosti, naknadni posevki predstavljajo pomemben element trajnostne integrirane pridelave na njivah v spreminjajočih se podnebnih pogojih. Izjemno so uporabni pri ekološki pridelavi, kjer je ravnanje z dušikom in ogljikom še posebej pomembno.
(V slovenščini z angleškimi podnaslovi) 

»Benefits of using catch crops, SI
Because they have a wide number of positive properties, catch crops represent an important element in sustainable integrated production on arable land under changing climate conditions. They are extremely useful in organic production, where nitrogen and carbon management is particularly important.
(in Slovenian with English subtitles)

video 18 screenshot sq

»Krog hranil v ekološki pridelavi, SI
Kmet v pogovoru s študentom agronomije razloži kako kompostira in uporablja živalske odpadke na svoji ekološki kmetiji na Ljubljanskem polju.
(V slovenščini z angleškimi podnaslovi) 

»Nutrient cycle in organic farming, SI
Interviewed by a masters student, a farmer discusses how he composts and uses animal waste on his organic farm in the Ljubljansko polje study site, Slovenia.
(in Slovenian with English subtitles)
video 19 screenshot sq

»Biooglje za izboljšanje tal, SI
Biooglje se vedno več uporablja za izboljšanje kakovosti tal. Poveča poroznost, zračnost in vodozadrževalne lastnosti tal. Optimizira pH, poveča kationsko izmenjalno kapaciteto, in adsorpcijske lastnosti tal, s čimer prispeva k zmanjšanemu izpiranju hranil.
(V slovenščini z angleškimi podnaslovi)

»Biochar as a soil improver, SI
Biochar is increasingly being used to improve soil quality. It increases porosity, aeration and water retention capacity. It optimizes pH, increases the cation-exchange capacity and the soil's adsorption capability, reducing nutrient leaching.
(in Slovenian with English subtitles) 

video 05 screenshot sq

»Vpliv načina obdelave na fizikalne lastnosti tal
Prikazana je simulacija obilnih poletnih padavin in njihovega učinka na obdelana tla z vidika erozivnosti in infiltracije vode. Rezultati simulacije jasno pokažejo razliko med dolgotrajnimi učinki konvencionalne in konzervirajoče obdelave.
(V slovenščini z angleškimi podnaslovi) 

»Impact of soil management on physical soil properties
This is a simulation of abundant summer rain and its impact on the tilled soils in terms of water infiltration capacity and erodibility. The result of this simulation is presented very clearly. It shows the difference between long-term conventional versus conservation soil tillage.
(in Slovenian with English subtitles) 

  Infografika Infographics

video 04 screenshot sq

»Spreminjanje njiv v pašnike
Na lahkih tleh okoli Ljubljane je rastlinska pridelava okrnjena zaradi suše. Kot alternativa je predstavljen sistem, kjer je njiva preorana in zasejana z na sušo odpornimi vrstami trave. Z ogrado, ki je razdeljena na čredinke, pridobimo pašnik za krave dojilje. Taka ureditev ima na kakovost tal številne pozitivne učinke.
(V angleščini

»Converting cropland to grazing land
In the light soils of Ljubljana, crop production is affected by drought. Cropland is ploughed and sown with drought resistant grass varieties, fencing and rotational grazing paddocks are introduced to provide pasture for suckler cows with multiple benefits for soil quality.
(in English)

video 04 screenshot sq

»Gnojenje s hlevskim gnojem
Živinski gnoj se pred nanosom na njivo kompostira na kmetiji. Gnojenje z uležanim hlevskim gnojem izboljša vsebnost in dostopnost hranil, strukturo tal in mikrobiološko aktivnost, kar pozitivno vpliva na rast rastlin in posledično kmetijsko pridelavo.
(V angleščini)

»Fertilising with farmyard manure
Manure collected from livestock is stored before being ploughed into the soil. The manure increases nutrient content and availability, soil structure, microbial activity and impacts plant growth resulting in better vegetable and crop production.
(in English)

video 04 screenshot sq

»Biooglje in zeolit – integrirano upravljanje z rodovitnostjo tal
Biooglje in zeolit se uporabljata v živinski pridelavi kot dodatek ob gnojenju z organskimi gnojili. Zeolit se kot element uporablja za izboljšanje tal tudi v rastlinski pridelavi. Vsi ostanki se zadelajo v tla.
(V angleščini)

»Biochar and zeolite - integrated soil fertility managment
Bio-char and zeolite are used in animal production and spread onto the fields as part of organic manure. Zeolite is also used as individual element in crop production to improve soils. All residues are incorporated into the soil.
(in English)

video 04 screenshot sq

»Biooglje kot izboljševalec tal
Biooglje se pridobiva s pirolizo lesa, rastlinskih ostankov in hlevskega gnoja pri visokih temperaturah. Zmleto biooglje se nanaša ob setvi ali pa se ga primeša živinskim gnojilom. Na kakovost tal ima številne pozitivne učinke.
(V slovenščini)

»Biochar as a soil amendment
Biochar is obtained by pyrolysing wood, plant residues and manure at high temperatures. It is ground before being applied to the soil while sowing or mixed with slurry or manure. It has a number of beneficial effects on soil quality.
(in English)

video 04 screenshot sq

»Ekološko kmetijstvo
Ekološko kmetijstvo v Sloveniji temelji na 5 letnem kolobarju, popolni odsotnosti sintetičnih sredstev za varstvo rastlin in mineralnega dušika ter na kroženju dušika na podlagi živinskih gnojil, pridelkov in žetvenih ostankov.
(V slovenščini)

»Organic farming
Organic farming in Slovenia is based on a 5 year crop rotation, complete absence of artificial plant protection products and mineral nitrogen and the circulation of nitrogen via organic manure, crops and residues.
(in English)
video 04 screenshot sq »Prezimni dosevki - pomen za kakovost tal
Naknadni dosevki se sejejo po žetvi, ko je v tleh še dovolj vode da lahko rastline hitro rastejo in črpajo ostanke hranil, zlasti dušika. Uporabijo se za prehrano živali ali za ozelenitev njivskih površin.
(V slovenščini)
»Catch crops - importance for soil quality
Catch crops are sown after the harvest when there is enough moisture in the soil for the plants to grow rapidly. They are used for feeding animals or sown for greening arable land.
(in English)
 video 04 screenshot sq »Krogotok hranil na ekološki kmetiji
Živali so na kmetiji vir hranil. Kompostiranje gnoja izboljša njegove lastnosti in zmanjša kasnejše izgube hranil na poljih. Okopavanje zrači tla in povečuje dostopnost hranil, analize tal pa so pomembne za pripravo načrtov gnojenja.
(V slovenščini)
»Nutrient cycle in organic farming
Animals are the source of nutrients on farms. Composting cattle manure improves its characteristics and reduces nutrient loss from fields. Hoeing aerates the soil and increases nutrient accessibility. Soil analysis is important for fertilization plans. 
(in English)

 2. Study site description

Geographical description

The iSQAPER study site in Slovenia is located on the Ljubljansko polje (Figure 8), the twenty-kilometre long and six-kilometre wide plain in the central part of Slovenia on the fertile plains of Sava river basin (300 m altitude, 14º31' E, 46°3' N) which has a moderate continental and sub-alpine humid climate (mean air temperature 10 °C, annual precipitation 1400 mm). Most of the highly fertile arable land in Slovenia is located in plains above shallow groundwater recharge zones, which are the country’s most important sources of drinking water (Zupanc et al., 2011). The mean annual water balance is positive (600 mm), and with the highly permeable soils and subsoils, there is a high risk of N leaching and ground water pollution, leading to a confrontation of drinking water resource protection and agricultural production interests.

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

More than 60% of Slovenia is covered by forests and 25% (480,000 ha) is used for agriculture (permanent meadows, pastures: 281,000 ha, arable land: 172,000 ha). The field crops are grown most intensively in the valleys, where a predominately flat surface enables the use of modern farm machinery. The gravel plains of Ljubljansko polje are traditionally agricultural, although the city of Ljubljana has been expanding substantially. According to CORINE land cover data, arable land covers 20.6%, meadows 14.7% and pastures 1.2%. Small family farms are typical for the central-west part of Slovenia. The average farm has 10 ha of land. Farms are mixed and produce includes cash crops (wheat, barley, potato, canola, maize, field vegetables) as well as fodder crops for animals, including second crops in the same year established after the harvest of winter cereals (fodder kale, oil radish, fodder rape, grass-clover mixtures). The cattle farming is quite intensive and consequently silage maize is grown in 40% of fields in a crop rotation.

SS06 03 SS06 03 SS06 04 SS06 04 SS06 05 SS06 05 SS06 06 SS06 06

Characteristic soils and soil quality monitoring practice

Almost 80% of the soils of these flat areas were formed on fluvio-glacial deposits of sand and gravel, and these soils represent >50% of all tilled fields. In the west of Slovenia, in the river basin of Sava, the parent material is rich in bases, so the soil complexes are also saturated with them. The older, deeper, weathered brown soils are formed above conglomerate or breccia. This type of soil is acid, mostly covered with pine or mixed forests. Predominant soils are gleyic Fluvisols and endogleyic Fluvisols with heterogeneous soil texture, mainly loam and sandy loam, with gravel appearing either on the surface or below the ploughing layer. Some alluvial soil in the study area is classified as silty clay to silty clay loam with a moderately-gleyed layer between 30 cm and 70 cm below the surface of the soil and gravel material underneath. The soil is locally artificially drained by sub-surface drains.

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Previous research and innovation actions on soil improvement and monitoring

High soil quality provides a buffer zone for the retention of possible pollutants, enabling better nutrient and water use efficiency. A suitable soil management system is essential for the preservation of soil and water resources.

  • Tillage experiment: The effect of 12 years of a minimum tillage system showed positive influence on soil quality, namely increased microbial biomass and soil organic carbon in the upper soil layer, increased aggregate stability, soil water retention properties and water infiltration rate compared to conventional tillage (Kaurin et al., 2013; Žigon, 2013). Plant available P, K, N and DOC showed greater stratification in the soil profile under minimum tillage. Minimum tillage also increased aggregate stability. The effect of organic amendments (straw, compost from separately collected biogenic waste (Turk and Mihelič, 2013)) was also monitored.
  • Grassland experiment: Although it is a typical long-term experiment there are some useful results obtained after the three experimental years: (i) the influence of fertilizer application on the botanical composition of the treated sward was significant in the first three years, (ii) the fertilizer application had also had a major effect on herbage dry matter yield, and (iii) the impact of cutting regimes on the botanical composition of the sward and on the herbage dry matter yield was considerably lower than that of fertilization application. In general, increased amounts of nutrients in the grassland ecosystem, especially nitrogen, increased herbage dry matter yield mainly due to increased yield of the grass component. In the fourth experimental year (2014), the measures of forage quality parameters, abundance and structure of AM fungi and balance of mineral nutrients was also included.

3. Participation of stakeholders in the iSQAPER research programme

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  Gender M/F Role
Farmers, land managers Ljubljana (majority), Dol pri Ljubljani, Medvode, Vrhnika, Komenda Farm  13M, 1F Landowner and land manager (majority), land worker, product retailer, service consumer
Advisors Ljubljana (majority), Murska Sobota, Podkum Agriculture Extension Service, Association for conservational tillage, Agricultural company, Municipality of Ljubljana, Birds Life Slovenia 4M, 4F Provider of information/advice to land managers/workers, creating market opportunities for products, equipment and tool provision, product retail, product certification, nature conservation
Policy-makers Ljubljana Ministry for Environment, Ministry for Agriculture, Geological Survey of Slovenia, Public Water Company, 1M, 1F Regulation and enforcement, preparation of national water management plan, public drinking water supply, 
Researchers Ljubljana University of Ljubljana 1M Researcher, land manager

4. Research tasks

Soil quality assessment and agricultural management practice evaluation

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). Thirteen examples of a number of these AMPs were identified in the Ljublana 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 Ljubljansko polje study site. Climatic region: southern sub-continental

Plot number Farming system  Farming system detail Soil type AMP general description AMP number*
6.1 Arable  Non irrigated arable land - Cereals; Maize; Legumes; Fodder crops Fluvisols  Leguminous crop 5
6.2 Arable  Permanently irrigated land - Flower, fruits and vegetables  Fluvisols  Irrigation management 14
6.3 Arable Non irrigated arable land - Cereals; Maize; Legumes; Fodder crops; Root crops Fluvisols Crop rotation / Control or change of species composition 9
6.4 Arable Non irrigated arable land - Maize; Legumes; Fodder crops; Root crops Fluvisols Manuring & composting 7
6.5 Arable Non irrigated arable land - Cereals; Maize; Fluvisols Cover crops 4
6.6 Pasture Intensive Fluvisols Change of land use practices / intensity level 18
6.7 Arable Non irrigated arable land - Cereals; Maize; Legumes; Fodder crops Cambisols Measures against compaction 11
6.8 Arable Permanently irrigated land - Flower, fruits and vegetables Cambisols Integrated pest and disease management incl. organic agriculture 12
6.9 Arable Non irrigated arable land - Maize; Legumes; Fodder crops; Root crops Cambisols Crop rotation / Control or change of species composition 9
6.10 Arable Non irrigated arable land - Maize; Legumes; Fodder crops; Root crops Cambisols Manuring & composting 7
6.11 Arable Non irrigated arable land - Maize; Legumes; Fodder crops Cambisols Cover crops 4
6.12 Pasture Intensive Cambisols Change of land use practices / intensity level 18
6.13 Arable Non irrigated arable land - Maize; Legumes; Fodder crops Gleysols Min-till 2

*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.

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Those practices that are innovative for Slovenia 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 (6.9: Crop rotation/control or change of species composition and 6.12: Change of grazing intensity level) 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 crop rotation/control or change of species composition that was exemplified in Plot 6.9 (which combined organic farming, crop rotation and manuring) 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).

Slovenia 6.9
Soil properties
Slovenia 6.9 threa
Soil threats

This practice addresses soil compaction, surface crust formation and organic matter depletion. The control plot consists of diverse crop rotation and conventional system with no organic matter amendment. VSA total scores are slightly higher for the soil under the AMP, where higher soil stability and earthworm counts were observed but in part counterbalanced by a higher topsoil compaction.

SQAPP development, testing and evaluation

Of the 90 stakeholders who took part in the evaluation of the beta version of SQAPP, 23 were from the Ljubljansko polje study site. 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

 

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Demonstration workshops

Two demonstration events were organised in the Ljubljansko polje study site to present the major findings of iSQAPER to stakeholders, demonstrate a management practice of proven benefit to soil quality and to evaluate the latest version of SQAPP.

  • The event on 18th September 2019 was organised as demo-workshop. A presentation was followed by a practical demonstration of visual soil assessment, SQAAP and soil water measurement techniques.
  • The main topic of the second event on 28th January 2020 was the use stable istopes in soil and water studies and was promoted by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and University of Life Sciences from Vienna. The iSQAPER team took advantage of the event to present practical experiences with evaluating the impact of agricultural management practices on water quality under the "Current challanges" section. Participants were also provided with information on SQAPP and other AMP techniques studed in Slovenia.

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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 the AMP combining organic farming, crop rotation and manuring was prepared to accompany the demonstrations.

AMP SS06 EN a
English version
AMP SS06 EN a AMP SS06 EN b
 
AMP SS06 EN b AMP SS06 SI a
Slovenian version
AMP SS06 SI a AMP SS06 SI b
 
AMP SS06 SI b

 »Organic farming, broad rotation and organic manure, Slovenia

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

Members of the Ljubljansko polje 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

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 Ljubljana polje study site as indicated in Table 3.

Table 3: Activities in which iSQAPER's research programme could potentially have a lasting impact in the Ljubljansko polje 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        x    
Uptake of recommended AMPs         x  
Regular use of SQAPP     x      
Development of new or enhancement of existing stakeholder networks   x        
The involvement of new stakeholder types in existing networks       x    

 

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