Azione B5: Impostazione e gestione delle prove sul campo

Durata: Aprile 2013 - Ottobre 2015. Questa azione è stata condotta dall'autunno 2013 all'autunno 2015. In questo modo, è stato possibile valutare le emissioni di N2O non solo per differenti sistemi di coltivazione, ma anche dallo stesso tipo di coltura per almeno due anni. 

Scopo: L'obiettivo di questa azione è stato quello di preparare e gestire una serie di prove agronomiche sul campo al fine di creare diversi trattamenti che producono diverse emissioni di N2O. Le prove si sono diversificate in relazione a tre fattori cruciali: specie, gestioni delle colture e caratteristiche del suolo.

Le prove agronomiche sono state allestite presso due centri sperimentali del territorio Toscano: il Centro Interdipartimentale per la Ricerca Agroecologica E. Avanzi (CIRAA), situato sulla costa settentrionale della Toscana (PI) e il Centro di Ricerca per le tecnologie agricole e l'estensione dei servizi della Provincia di Arezzo di Cesa (CATES). Tenendo conto della grande disponibilità di sistemi colturali, delle condizioni del suolo e delle strategie tecnologiche attivi presso i due centri sperimentali, alcune prove sul campo sono state effettuate sui principali seminativi rappresentaivi della Regione Toscana e sulle promettenti colture energetiche con l'obiettivo di indagare quali colture e quali gestioni possono contribuire alla riduzione delle emissioni di N2O. La disponibilità di due siti, caratterizzati da condizioni ambientali (litoranea e continentale), ha permesso di testare la metodologia applicata in luoghi diversi rappresentativi della Regione Toscana.

Partner Responsabile: SSSUP

Stato dei lavori:
 La gestione delle prove sperimentali è stata completata anche per il secondo anno, raggiungendo gli obiettivi prefissi.




Action B5: Field Trials Set Up and Management

From April 2013 to October 2015

The objective of this action will be to prepare and manage a set of field trials in order to create several treatments for N2O emissions in relation to three crucial factors: species, crop managements and soil characteristics. 

For this reason several field trials will be set up at two experimental centres located in the Tuscany Region: the Interdipartimental Centre for Agro-Ecological Research E. Avanzi (CIRAA), located on the northern coast of Tuscany (PI) and the Cesa Research Centre for Agricultural Technologies and Extension Services in the Province of Arezzo (CATES). Taking into account the wide availability of cropping systems, soil conditions and technical strategies active at the two experimental centres, some field trials will be carried out on the main arable crops representative of the Tuscany Region and on promising energy crops with the aim to investigate which crops and which crop managements can contribute to reduction of N2O emission. The availability of two sites, characterised by litoraneal and continental environmental conditions, will allow to test the applied methodology on different locations representative of the Tuscany Region.

CIRAA is included within the Migliarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli Natural Park. It lies on flat soil (1 m above sea level) and covers a total area of ca. 1700 ha. CIRAA soils are young and heterogeneous: their texture ranges from sandy (> 82% sand) in fields farther from the Arno river to clayey (40-44% of clay) in those closer to the river. Mean monthly air temperature varies from 11°C in February to 30°C in August. Rainfall is concentrated in autumn (October and November) and spring (March and April): mean total rainfall (latest 20 years) ranged from 550 to 1180 mm/year. 

CIRAA area includes 100 ha of permanent pasture, 700 ha of woodland and 900 ha of arable land. Part of the land is used for research activities, while the remaining land is cultivated for commercial purposes under EU agri-environmental schemes. 

Permanent pastures are concentrated in poor heavy soils and are sheep-grazed. Mixed woodland is composed of plantations as well as natural or semi-natural assemblages of different Mediterranean species. Forest is managed by regular cutting of under storey vegetation to ease harvest operations.

CIRAA farmland is mostly cultivated with arable crops, namely industrial crops (sunflower, soybean), energy crops (poplar Short Rotation Forestry, giant reed, miscanthus and switchgrass), cash crops (maize, wheat, barley, rye) and forage crops (silage maize, alfalfa, clover) grown to feed livestock reared in the CIRAA stable for milk production. 

Crop rotations vary according to soil texture and irrigation availability. Arable crop management is carried out as to minimize environmental impact and, in particular, to conserve or increase soil organic matter and fertility, reduce potential leaching risks of nitrogen and agrochemicals and increase soil aggregate stability, which is particularly helpful to reduce surface sealing in silty soils.

The CATES is an experimental farm of the Tuscany Region that carries out its activities in fields rented to
the Azienda Agricola Regionale di Alberese. The CATES centre is focused on integrated farm management which aims at adopting environmentally friendly practices supporting food safety by minimizing chemical inputs and water use within the agricultural production phase. The CATES carries out testing of agricultural technologies and extension services linked to research and applied experimental research projects at local, regional and national level, and hosts experimental trials on account of private companies and research institutes. Total area of the centre is about 700 ha divided into two separated sites. One of them is located on a flat area while the other one is situated on medium-slope hills. Each location has a separated weather station. These stations are part of the regional climate monitoring network.

A large part of the fields are susceptible to be irrigated with different irrigation systems, that may vary according to the requirements of different experimental trials.

The agricultural area of CATES is allocated to vineyards, olive groves, bioenergy crops and arable lands (about 35%). The activity is focused on: (1) testing of agricultural techniques and extension services within the context of research projects, (2) projecting and carrying out of agronomical tests and variety evaluations, both on account of private parties and for the public sector, (3) updating the regulations on integrated farm management systems of the Tuscany Region, and (4) technical support to the Coordination Area of “Rural Development” of the Tuscany Regional’s Council.

CATES’s facilities includes a conference room and audiovisual equipments. The centre hosts dissemination activities both organized by the Tuscany Region or by the parties providing funding for field trials.

Both the Centres showed a series of long-term experiments carried out at field scale on several cropping systems and agricultural management practices on cropping systems, soil tillage, cover crops, organic farming (comparing organic and conventional systems) and energy cropping systems such as poplar short rotation forestry, giant reed, miscanthus and sorghum. 

These field trials have been deeply characterised analysing some agronomic and environmental aspects with the aim to evaluate the overall sustainability of different management practices. For this reason, the availability of several cropping systems and of long-term data represents a good opportunity to develop a monitoring campaign on a wide range of systems.

In particular, field trials will be chosen considering the main agronomic aspects potentially affecting N2O emission from soil, as reported by previous studies, such as:
- crop species;
- irrigation level;
- nitrogen fertilization level;
- timing of N fertilization;
- placement of N fertilization;
- type of fertilizer (organic or synthetic, etc);
- tillage system;
- crop residue management.

Annually, the field trials will be set up at farm level, on areas about 0.5 ha for each crop. The area will be chosen next to electricity grid to power both the irrigation system and the station prototype for N2O flux monitoring. The main physical and chemical soil characteristics will be assessed when the action will start, while during the crop cycles soil temperature and moisture will be recorded to integrate information on N2O fluxes. Furthermore, data on crop yield and on the main biometric characteristics will be collected at the harvest time. 

This action will be carried out from autumn 2013 to autumn 2015. In this way, it will be possible to evaluate N2O emissions not only from different cropping systems, but also from the same type of crop at least for two years. In addition, we have to take into account that field trial set up has to be necessary combined with field trial management of different crops (autumn –winter cereals, spring- summer crops and perennial crops), in relation to the crop cycle.

Expected results

This action will produce two-year data on the main arable crops under Tuscany environmental conditions. The main data collected will be on:
- specific protocols for each cropping system including: surface area, crop management, analysed treatments;
- crop yield variation in relation to the different treatments analysed (fertilization rate, crop management, etc.);
- evaluation of soil chemical effects of adopted treatments;
- indirect effects of the considered treatments in terms of environmental impact (nitrate leaching, carbon stock, soil erosion, etc.);
- evaluation of obtained data to assess the economic sustainability of different treatments.

Available knowledge will be integrated with flux measurements with the aim:
(i) to prepare synthetic guidelines (Action B.7) for the identification of the best practices for N2O emission mitigation;
(ii) to elaborate a process-oriented spatial model for N2O estimate, using a geodatabase to organize and manage geographical data, to develop some scenarios at regional scale, to assess the impact of different management strategies on N2O emission reduction from agricultural soil (Action C.2).

Improved flux Prototypes
for N2O emission from Agriculture

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