Management of soil water resources in the EU and China and its impact on agro-ecosystem functions
Proposals will provide a platform for research on soil-water resources management based on a system approach by considering a number of regional climate scenarios in Europe and China. Activities will include the assessment of the function between crop yield variability and soil hydraulic properties by linking data and models from long-term experiments. Linkages between agricultural soil hydrology and threats will have to be systematically assessed and adaptation and mitigation methods provided, taking into account land-use dynamics, economic context and social aspects of soil water management. Proposals will develop and test good practices for sustainable on-farm water management and watershed practices adapted to local conditions (conventional and advanced technologies). Optimising circular approaches to re-use water and make use of waste water might also be envisaged in a comprehensive approach to water management in agricultural production systems.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Contributions for Chinese participants will come in addition and will be made available by China.
Soil is the largest terrestrial water reservoir and a decisive factor in crop production and yield variability. A shortage of water to sustain crop production systems and other agro-ecosystem services is a major issue in many Mediterranean areas of the EU and climatic projections suggest that precipitation will become increasingly variable and unreliable in the near future. As many parts of China are facing similar problems, there is a common interest in increasing cooperation on this key issue to promote sustainable production systems in a changing environment.
- improved soil and water-use efficiency in agricultural production;
- Identification of tools, mainly at farm level, to improve soils' water-holding capacities and plant productivity in the presence of drought or flood risks. To be effective, the practices need to be conducted at farm level and then upscaled regionally;
- identification of new and advanced sustainable technologies for soil-water management that will efficiently reduce crop-yield variability and the impact of extreme weather events on crops; and
- evaluation and study of water balances at watershed level and evaluation of crops' real 'water footprint'.