Effect of farming on soil quality
|Main authors:||Ana Iglesias, David Santillán, Luis Garrote and contributions from ISS (China)|
|iSQAPERiS editor:||Jane Brandt|
|Source document:||Iglesias, A. et al. (2018) Report on definition of typical combinations of farming systems and agricultural practices in Europe and China and their effects on soil quality. iSQAPER Project Deliverable 7.1, 87 pp|
Numerous technical improvements and agricultural management practices have facilitated the improvement of soil ecosystem services with an improved environmental footprint. It is to be expected that these changes in agricultural practices will continue into the future. Based on historical records of crop and soil management practices in Europe and China and models of the main ecosystem services, iSQAPER will estimate the future environmental footprint under different climate and policy scenarios. In doing this, due attention will also be given to global environmental and climate policies.
A main effort in this section of iSQAPERiS is to identify and characterize a relatively limited number of typical farming systems in Europe and China with relevant crop and soil management practices building on other iSQAPER work. We start by sumarising previous knowledge on upscaling approaches in geospatial environmental studies.
»Upscaling approaches in geospatial environmental studies
Then we present the methodology for upscaling proposed by the iSQAPER project.
»Approach taken to evaluate the soil environmental footprint
Upscaling intends to assess soil environmental footprint and therefore it is focused on three main ecosystem services linked to soil quality: food provisioning, water provisioning and regulation, and climate regulation. The analysis is based on three categories: farming systems, agricultural management practices and soil quality factors.
This work builds on elements and resources for the characterization of the soil threats, pedoclimatic zones, typical farming systems, and typical agricultural practices, that have been analysed and reported elsewhere in iSQAPERiS (Figure 1). Many aspects and data have been mainly collected from different iSQAPER partners, official databases (such as Eurostat) and also from global datasets (JRC, MapSpam, EarthStat, ISRIC, FAO). We build from these publicly available datasets on soil, agriculture, physical context and socioeconomic context. These data have been compiled, processes and projected on a common geospatial framework that allows for cross-data analyses.
»Geospatial, farming systems and agricultural management practices data
The categorization of farming systems, agricultural management practices and soil quality indicators is based on work carried out in iSQAPER and previous projects concerned with soil health. This work has been carefully reviewed and analysed in order to extract the most relevant features for upscaling. In each agricultural region there may be a very large number of indicators for upscaling. In our methodology, we provide a balance between the maximum number of indicators that can be distinguished and the minimal number of systems that should be considered in order to obtain a representative view of the effect of soil management practices on the environmental footprint. As a result, a proposal is made to consider
- seven categories of farming systems (cereals, rice, maize, soybean, vegetables, pasture and permanent crops),
- five categories of agricultural management practices (soil management, crop management, nutrient management, water management and organic agriculture) and
- three categories of soil quality indicators that can be linked to ecosystem services (crop yield, organic carbon and water holding capacity).
» Selecting farming systems, agricultural managment practices and soil quality indicators for upscaling
All these categories are based on analyses carried out elsewhere in iSQAPER. Based on these studies the categories have been properly defined and characterized.
» Definition of farming systems, agricultural managment pactices and soil quality indicators
The farming systems selected provide a broad overview of the different types of systems that are common in Europe and China. These farming systems are characterized here including: geographical zones, spatial extent, productivity level and intensity of land and resource (fertilizer and manure) use, management practices, and irrigation. We have compiled data from all categories of farming systems, management practices and soil quality indicators and present a spatial representation of the available information for Europe and China. It includes, spatial location, intensity of resource use and crop yield for farming systems, degree of implementation for agricultural practices and available information on soil quality status. These generalised results for Europe and China will be compared with inventories conducted in the case study regions (»Soil managment scenarios).
We present an analysis of the combinations of farming systems and agricultural management practices in Europe and China, together with an estimation of the influence of AMPs on soil quality, based on geostatistical inference derived from the spatial datasets and on iSQAPER project results derived from the long term experiments and from the case study sites.
»Effect of agricultural management practices on soil quality
Further steps are required to analyze all these variables with the aim of evaluating the effect of management practices on the soil environmental footprint.
»Gaps in knowledge and further work