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Development of a model based decision support system to optimise nitrogen use in horticultural crop rotations across europe

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Model support for field crop rotation

A novel computer based decision support system was designed in order to improve efficiency of nitrogen use in field crop rotations. The model can help optimise production and enhance economic stability while also being adaptable to different production systems and climatic regions of Europe.

Digital Economy

In order for yield and quality of fresh vegetable production in Europe to be sustained, large volumes of fertiliser or organic nitrogen (N) sources are applied. In regards to field vegetable crops, a problem arises with the inefficient use of N resulting in large amounts of damaging residues left in the soil. In light of this, the EUROTATE_N project has endeavoured to assist growers as well as policy makers via a decision support system for N management and rotational planning. In the quest for the reduction of nitrogen losses, a computer based decision support system known as the EU-Rotate_N model was developed. The model allows for the evaluation of economic and environmental performance of crop rotation for a broad array of crops and growing conditions across Europe. Furthermore, it can be applied to conventional as well as organic cropping. The model is comprised of novel functions which can simulate various actions. These include root development, the mineralisation and release of N from soil organic matter and crop residues as well as the effects of freezing conditions and water movement. Performance of the model was tested against experimental results and the patterns of growth N response and N losses were simulated. The scenarios show promise for improved nitrogen management in field vegetable rotations while increasing efficiency.

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