Department of Agronomy
Type of project
Type of project
01.09.2020 - 31.08.2023
Project manager at BFPintar Marina
Soil and water, fundamental sources for the existence of life, are under intense pressure from intensive use, inappropriate land management and climate change. Small water retention measures protect and strengthen the soil water-retention potential and improve the quality of water resources; enable water retention during wet periods, which is therefore available during drought periods for the maintenance of agro-ecosystems.
The main objective of the research is to examine the impacts of climate changes on the economic sustainability of water management in agricultural soils (surplus, shortage) and soil management (erosion) in the selected catchment, using small water retention and soil erosion prevention measures to adapt the agricultural sector to the new climate and environmental conditions.
In order to check the effectiveness of agricultural measures in soil water retention, we will prepare field experiments for selected relevant agricultural water retention and soil erosion prevention measures on agricultural land (e.g. buffer strips, minimal tillage, strip cropping along contours, crop rotation, green cover, cover crops, terraces, controlled traffic farming, reduced stocking density, mulching). We will establish various field experiments on agricultural parcels in three topological and pedo-climatic variable river catchments of the Ledava and Pesnica Rivers in Sub-Pannonian and Vipava River in Sub-Mediterranean area. All three river catchments are highly exposed to various weather phenomena (droughts and floods). Experiments will start at the beginning of the first full year after the project start and will last continuously for two years. During this time, we will perform regular field soil measurements and sampling of soil water content in selected experimental plots, at least on a weekly time scale. At the selected plots, soil particles displacement due to erosion (sediment) will be evaluated. For compound-specific stable isotopes, samples of topsoil will be collected from each land use from different parts of the catchment.
For individual river catchments where measures will be located, integrated catchment models will be developed using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) tool. With the help of the machine learning tool, we will establish the relationship between the estimated impacts (modelling) and the observed state (experiment, measurement) of the observed agricultural ecosystems in the form of a regression model tree. We will prepare a comprehensive analysis and assessment of the sustainability of the measures under consideration, which will focus on the economic, environmental and social aspects in terms of placement, maintenance and long-term benefits. This will be carried out using the DEXi multi-criteria decision-making process, enabling us to compare with each other monetary and nonmonetary indicators according to their impacts on social and economic sustainability.
The results of the CeVoTaK project will have a positive impact on the development of science in managing less known natural techniques for flood,
drought and erosion management, known as agricultural small natural water retention in the soil and soil erosion prevention measures. The
particular impact can be expected with an assessment of the economic sustainability of measures taking into account climate change by the end of
the century (2100), at farm level and in small river catchments as an integrated unit. The results will have a direct impact on the development of the
research field and profession, as in the dissemination, we will share the results with several international organisations (GWP CEE, EIP Water, EIP
Agri and NWRM Initiative). The results will have an indirect economic and direct social impact on the institutions and inhabitants of the areas under
consideration, especially on farms, where small water retention measures will be studied. A detailed economic analysis will show the economic
impact of the measures for the agricultural holdings.
In the long term, the project will contribute to the science by testing different methods and fill gaps in lack of data, thus contributing to the reduction
of the uncertainty in the environmental evaluation of agro‐environmental‐climate measures in the field of soil water retention and soil erosion
The catchment models prepared in the project will be public and available for use by the scientific and professional community in other
environmental studies in the field of evaluation of agri‐environment‐climate measures. All protocols and best practice recommendations developed
in the project will be accessible through the project website and published in open‐source scientific journals.
THE PHASES OF THE PROJECT AND THEIR REALIZATION
The project will be organised in 5 interconnected work packages (WP1 – Coordination of the project; WP2 – The effectiveness of agricultural measures; WP3 – Modelling agricultural measures effectiveness; WP4 – Sustainability of the measures; WP5 – Knowledge transfer and dissemination). We will use various methods of field monitoring, laboratory and statistical analysis, and modelling of river catchments. Dissemination and knowledge transfer will take place at the regional, national and international levels. The research team is composed of scientific of the University of Ljubljana from the research field of agricultural land management and agrohydrology, agricultural economics, agrometeorology, health ecology and hydrotechnics. The project team also includes researchers from the field of agronomy of the three Agricultural and Forestry Units from Maribor, Murska Sobota and Nova Gorica.
The project management and dissemination timing of the working tasks (WT) will be carried out throughout the project implementation period, others only part of the period. Their execution is usually structured with milestones (M), and final results (RF) reports. Since WP are effectively divided among participating partners and researchers, the implementation of the project does not represent an organisational challenge.