Optimal soil quality in arable crops

The network focusses on demonstration of best practices of soil management in arable crop rotations, including highly mechanized vegetable crops like potatoes and crops grown for the processing industry. The demo-activities concern proven and economical balanced techniques and practices with high potential to improve the agronomic and societal soil services for the short and the long term. Soil services include food security, income, minimal emissions (nutrients, pesticides), carbon storage related to climate change mitigation and adaptation, prevention of soil degradation and erosion and improvement of biodiversity. Techniques and practices for sustainable soil management include diversification of crop rotation including cover crops, mechanization and tillage, application of organic inputs and balanced fertilization, involving also precision agriculture techniques in order to take special variability in soil conditions into account.

Crop sensing and variable rate applications

On several demonstration farms Precision Agriculture applications will be shown, focussing on informing colleague farmers on the added value in term of €€, production quantity and quality, environmental impact, investments needed and user friendliness of the application. The objective of the demonstrations will be to improve the uptake of precision technologies amongst arable farmers and to organize feedback from farmers to research and commercial organizations to increase the uptake and impact of these technologies. Focus will be on main arable crops like potato, wheat and maize. For the selection of suitable applications the Smart AKIS inventory will be used. The selected applications will be a combination of: (i) Sensing platforms (autonomous or connected to a tractor or implement), (ii) DSS or app (in the cloud) for transforming sensing data into application maps for variable rate applications, and (iii) Actual application of inputs (water, chemicals, fertilizers, lime).

Increasing productivity and quality in organic arable cropping

There is need, but also a clear possibility to improve farm yields in organic arable cropping. The network will promote exchange of knowledge among farmers, farm advisers, and scientists across Europe to foster uptake of solutions that increase productivity and quality in organic arable cropping. The demonstration activities focus on five themes: Soil quality and fertility; Nutrient management; Pest and disease control; Weed management, and Crop-specific challenges. The solutions are scientifically sound, accepted by farmers and embedded in organic farming systems. Examples include new crop rotations, intercropping with legumes, green manures, new fertilizers, innovative machines for sowing, (minimum) tillage and weed control, soil quality control, use of decision support systems. Solutions are uploaded to the knowledge platform of OK-Net Arable which also provides an opportunity for online exchange with farmers and advisers outside the project.