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Soil Hydrology research platform underpinning innovation to manage water scarcity in European and Chinese cropping systems

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SHui (Soil Hydrology research platform underpinning innovation to manage water scarcity in European and Chinese cropping systems)

Período documentado: 2020-03-01 hasta 2021-08-31

The background of SHui is that crop yields and food quality need to be maintained, or even increased, in a context of increasing water scarcity (driven by climate change and greater societal demands) without losing or degrading the soil and maintaining water resources and its quality. This is key, within an uncertain climate scenario, because:
a) food production needs to continue to increase at affordable prices.
b) agriculture needs to be prosperous and sustainable to maintain standards of living in rural areas and fighting rural exodus.
c) use of good quality cropland and secure water resources is approaching an upper limit, and so it is necessary to preserve them in good status.
So, SHui overall objectives are:
a) Benchmark existing, and emerging, cropping practices, in terms of crop yields, economic returns and key ecosystem services (mainly related to soil and water quality) mainly cereal-based rotations and tree crops.
b) Identify “win-win” interventions over short and long-term periods for both farmers and society in cooperation with different stakeholders. Developing and disseminating best management strategies at different spatial and temporal scales.
c) Determine the impacts of these interventions at larger scales on future crop yields and other agro-ecosystem services by testing two hypotheses:
c.1) In rainfed agriculture, increased resilience to extreme events can be achieved by introducing new technologies that allow heterogeneous management of the landscape.
c.2) In irrigated systems, optimal use of water (including rainfall and recycled water), can increase growers’ net profits and increase support from society.
So far SHui has:
1- Build a platform of long-term experiments in different cropping systems, including agronomic and hydrological measurements. This has merged the practical expertise of all the partners to determine best management practices (BMPs) and established datasets for use of models. Examples of these are long-term experiments on conservation agriculture in field crops in Austria or deficit irrigation in vines in Spain. They are in the SHui data management tool ( ).
2- Calibrate and validate a suite of simulation models for crops and hydrology at plot/field and regional scales. SHui partners have developed the new version of AquaCrop 6.1 coded this model for simulation at European scale and improve some of its routines. AquaCrop is being used to evaluate best strategies for water allocation in different crops. SHui is also finishing a model designed for determine the best allocation of water for tree crops under drought conditions. Physically based models (Hydrus 1-D) have been used to improve calibration of AquaCrop for situations under conservation agriculture. Different hydrologic models (e.g. CSLE, WATEM/SEDEM, SWAT, …) are been calibrated at field scale across EU and China in a coordinated effort started in October 2019. This has provided part of the information for a systematic evaluation of the potential of the most promising BMPs identified for improving yield, and sustainability of soil and water use in cereal based rotations and tree crops. These BMPs come from a systematic revision freely available ( An exploratory models to evaluate the impact of lateral fluxes on spatial variability of cereals at field scale has also been developed and validated.
3- Decision support systems (DSSs) to delineate homogeneous areas for precision management (e,g. irrigation) has been developed and they will result into two decision support tools (DSTs). Different technologies have been identified within SHui, to create a portfolio of additional DSTs to be exploited. These are: 1- DST to predict vine water status; 2- App to support farmers’ decisions in Chinese; 3- DST for optimizing gully erosion control structures; 4- App for guiding selection of BMP strategies; 5- App for determining actual ground cover for agronomic or erosion control.
4- In an COVID-19 restrictions environment, the focus groups studies in Spain. Czech Republic, Austria and Israel have been completed. From them the main reasons for farmers´ adoption of specific practices and its needs have been identified. It has also been made some progress on the cost-benefit analysis of most promising BMPs, reorganizing activities among partner to speed its progress and during the last year of SHui.
5- A platform for dissemination and training of in soil conservation and water-saving practices has been stablished. During these 36 months the webpage has been fully refurbished twice, and with the support of a community manager and the introduction of additional materials in digital format (webinars, digital tools) it has responded to the restrictions due to COVID-19. This has allowed to fulfill the training plan of the young scientists in SHui. National partners have carried out dissemination activities with local stakeholders, some of them in cooperation with groups of the EIP—AGRI.
Better knowledge is needed to determine crop water requirements in cereal-based rotations and tree crops at different spatial scales. SHui is contributing to expand this knowledge improving current crop simulation models, evaluating different hydrological models to explore its limits to incorporate specific BMPs and developing a prototype of exploratory models at field scale to evaluate the influences of lateral fluxes on variability of cereal yields. This will advance the understanding of the spatial and temporal variability in crop yields to enhance management practices and land use.
Shui adapting to COVID-19
SHui Project Board Meeting in Fuzhou April 2019
SHui field day in Czech Republic
SHui farmers focus group in Israel Dec 2019
Field visit to Nucice (CVUT)
Shui seminar on Soil Managemet in Beijing October 2019