iSQAPER Newsletter 16 January 2018
|Newsletter 20 February 2018|
In this edition of the iSQAPER Newsletter we focus on the iSQAPER study site in Crete.
Land management practices and soil quality in Crete
Climatic and soil characteristics accompanied by EU policies on subsidizing crops in the last two decades, have greatly favoured the extensive expansion of olive and vine plantations in the area which provides farmers with higher incomes. Orange plantations and vegetables grown in greenhouses have been mainly expanded in the lowland areas of the island. High amounts of fertilizers have been applied up until the last decade. However, farmers have realized the negative impacts on the environment and the increasing cost of crop production and thus the amount of applied fertilizers have steadily decreased. Drip irrigation has been expanded in the cropland areas to ensure increasing crop production. However, the over-exploitation of the aquifers has resulted in deterioration of water quality (high soluble salt content), thereby affecting soil salinization. The lack of good quality water has stimulated the construction of small reservoirs for increasing water availability for irrigation.
The intensification of agriculture resulted in accelerated rates of soil erosion in the hilly areas of the island. Furthermore, water pollution of the aquifers has become an important issue due to over-fertilization of the land and overuse of plant protection chemical products. Land desertification due to salinization in the lowlands and due to soil erosion in the sloping areas has become an important issue. Organic farming and integrated land management practices have been established in some areas for the protection of soil quality and ecosystem functions.
In this video, the iSQAPER team from the Agricultural University of Athens explain that the physical characteristics of Crete, elevation, slopes, rainfall, parent material and soils, combined with historic land management, make much of the island fragile and prone to desertification.
Three different land management practices are being used to address the threats of soil erosion and loss of organic matter content.
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