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vor 11 Monaten

FELD 01/2022

  • Text
  • Articifial intelligence
  • Precision farming
  • Intensification
  • Patchcrop
  • Biodiversity
  • Climate
  • Agriculture
  • Farmers
  • Ecosystem
  • Zalf
  • Researchers
  • Sustainable
  • Landscape
  • Soil
  • Agricultural
Small squares instead of large fields: Together with a real farm, a research team is testing an unusual cropping system in the patchCROP landscape laboratory. // ZALF researchers are developing agricultural strategies to explicitly promote valuable ecosystem services like fertile soils and clean drinking water. // Striving for a resource-efficient agriculture without yield losses, more and more farmers are implementing measures of sustainable intensification on their farms. // Using precision farming to detect pest outbreaks and predict climate change effects: artificial intelligence holds great potential for agriculture.

patchCROP patchCROP For

patchCROP patchCROP For ten years, they will investigate in detail how small-scale and diverse cropping systems — to be implemented and managed in the future with the support of field robots — affect soil fertility, biodiversity, yield, pest outbreaks and nutrient cycling. Small and more diverse instead of large and homogenous — at the core, the project is about a fundamental transformation of agricultural production striving to reduce the use of fertilizers, pesticides and large machinery. After all, the new chessboard-like production system cannot be profitably implemented with large agricultural machinery. Digital solutions and small field robots are thus needed for this far-reaching transformation. In the future, the small autonomous machines could take over a number of tasks: sowing independently, recognizing and treating diseased plants, monitoring soil moisture and irrigating accordingly, or selectively regulating the optimal nutrient status of individual plants. »We want to show how field robotics and digital technologies contribute to more diversity in the fields«, explains Kathrin Grahmann. »And to do so, we need to explore how sustainable cropping systems of the future could look like.« SMALL FIELD UNITS FOR BIODIVERSITY AND SOIL FERTILITY The agricultural scientist considers the experimental site, which has been used for conventional agricultural production over decades, a godsend: »With patchCROP, we have created a unique basis for investigating a wide range of questions under real on-farm conditions«. Yield maps from the last ten years show where the soil is most fertile and yields are high. In addition, soil samples and different soil scanners provided a vast amount of data on soil structure and nutrient status. Based on this data, the research team divided the entire experimental site into high-yielding and lower-yielding zones. In zones with sandier soils, less nutrients and water can be stored. They are therefore more suitable for crops like rye, sunflower or oats. They can obtain acceptable yields even with little water. In contrast, wheat, rapeseed or soybeans are grown on loamier and more fertile soils. The objective of this diversified cropping system is to make the best use of farmland, to ensure an optimal resource use, and to stabilize yields against weather extremes. In contrast to large sole cropped fields, smaller field units with diverse crop rotations are beneficial for biodiversity and soil fertility. Several research partners — including the DFG Cluster of Excellence PhenoRob at the University of Bonn, DAKIS, a joint project funded within the research program »Agricultural Systems of the Future« of the Federal The scientific coordinator Dr. Kathrin Grahmann together with the managing director of the Komturei Lietzen, Felix Gerlach: As a practice partner in the patchCROP landscape laboratory, the farm is providing and managing the field site. This collaboration is key to testing the vision of a more sustainable agriculture in practice. 06 07

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