Data which have become recently available strongly suggest that tillage erosion, i.e. the direct downslope movement of soil by tillage implements, is often the most important soil erosion processes on hilly agricultural land. Tillage erosion may not only have detrimental effects on soil quality but may also adversely affect landscape evolution as well as the preservation of archaeological sites.
However, data on tillage erosion are only available for a limited number of tools and agro-ecological conditions: a comprehensive study of the extent and intensity process at a European scale is lacking so that an effective prevention strategy cannot be developed.
This project aims to fill this knowledge gap. Therefore, the major objectives of the project are (1) collect the necessary data to assess the extent of tillage erosion and its effect on soil quality in Europe (current status), (2) to predict likely future effects of tillage erosion on soil quality and (3) to develop tools and guidelines for the prevention of tillage erosion.
The first objective will be met by assessing the intensity of tillage erosion as well as its effects on soil properties on 7 well-chosen agricultural sites in Europe. Through a detailed survey of the site, including an accurate description of the spatial variation of soil properties and the compilation of a detailed 137Cs-inventory, the necessary information to apply an improved version of an existing longterm erosion and depositor model (LTEM) will be collected. Model simulations will provide detailed information on the extent of tillage erosion on the site over the last decades as well as its effect on soil quality.
The assessment of the current status of tillage erosion is not sufficient to predict its future effects: tillage implements and practices are constantly changing. Therefore, tillage erosion experiments both under controlled and real-life conditions will be carried out in various agricultural settings. The results of these experiments will be used to develop a deterministic tillage erosion model (DTEP) which will predict tillage erosion rates for non-tested implements and/or conditions and which will allow to improve LTEM. Finally, an analysis will be carried out to evaluate future effects of tillage erosion under various agricultural scenarios.
Decisions about tillage practices are most often taken on the farm level. In the third part of the project (prevention) activities will be developed to increase awareness of the tillage erosion problem by contacting local farming organisations and providing them with information on the extent of the problem as well as prevention strategies. Furthermore, a decision support tool aimed at the expert user will be developed based on the results obtained in part I and II of the project: the tool will allow the identification of the zones susceptible to tillage erosion and the effect of alternative tillage practices and tools on tillage erosion rates, so that agricultural practices can be developed to prevent the problem.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
118 55 Athens - Votanikos
EX4 4QJ Exeter