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Typical farming systems and trends in crop and soil management in Europe

Work Package 2, “Current and future crop and soil management systems in Europe” main objectives are:

  • Identify  key  management  practices  affecting  SOC  flows  and  stocks  and  their applicability in various farming systems and agro-ecological zones in Europe.
  • Define   typical   farming   systems  in   Europe   (geographical  zones,   management practices, residue management) and their effects on SOC flows and stocks.
  • Develop  scenarios  of  future  crop  and  soil  management  systems  in  Europe  for improved productivity and enhanced soil SOC sequestration.
  • Identify farm and management systems at risk of low SOC flow and stocks under current and future climate.
  • Evaluate scenarios of changed soil and crop management systems for a range of ecosystem  services  using  the  model  tools  under  current  and  future  climate  in Europe.

Task 2.1 hopes to define key crops and soil management practices among the different European countries. Over the past decades agricultural practices in Europe have changed considerably from, for instance, a mixed, low productivity farming system with animals and crops towards systems with varying productivity of either animals or crops. These changes are driven by various economic, social and demographic factors and changes in consumer preferences and demand. Numerous technical improvements and agricultural extension services have facilitated the development of more intensive forms of agricultural production.

More recently, concerns regarding environmental sustainability and consumer health have lead to the resurgence of less intensive, forms of agriculture (including organic farming). It is to be expected that these changes in agricultural practices will continue into the future. Based on historical records of crop and soil management practices in Europe, trends have been developed and the appropriateness of extrapolating these trends into the future has been explored. In doing this, attention has also be given to European policies aiming at restructuring the European agricultural sector. Statistical data on historical and current agricultural land use have been applied to gain an overall European picture.

Deliverable 2.2 “Report describing and mapping typical European farming systems with the key crop and soil management practices and trends” addresses the different farming systems with specific and targeted crops and soil management that can be distinguished in Europe. These farming systems are changing, and will continue to change in the future. Therefore, it is necessary to identify and characterize a relatively limited number of typical European farming systems with relevant crop and soil management building on work from previous projects.

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Revised 11.09.2015