iSQAPER Newsletter 27 February 2018
|Newsletter 17 January 2019|
In this edition of the iSQAPER newsletter, we focus on the iSQAPER study site in Slovenia.
Land management practices in the Ljubljana study site
The study site is located on the Ljubljansko polje, the twenty-kilometre long and six-kilometre wide fertile plain in the central part of Slovenia and the Sava river basin. Most of the fertile arable land in Slovenia is located in plains above shallow groundwater recharge zones, which are also the country’s most important sources of drinking water. Mean annual water balance is positive (600 mm), and with the highly permeable soils and subsoils, there is a high risk of nitrate leaching and ground water pollution, leading to a conflict between drinking water protection and agricultural production.
More than 60% of Slovenia is covered by forests, and a quarter of the land is used for agriculture. The field crops are grown most intensively in the valleys, where a predominately flat surface enables the use of modern farm machinery. The gravel plains of Ljubljansko polje are traditionally agricultural, although the city of Ljubljana has been expanding substantially. According to CORINE land cover data, arable land covers 20.6%, meadows 14.7% and pastures 1.2%. Small family farms of around 10 ha are typical for the central-west part of Slovenia. Farms are mixed and produce cash crops (wheat, barley, potato, canola, maize, field vegetables), as well as fodder crops for animals, including second crops in the same year established after the harvest of winter cereals (fodder kale, oil radish, fodder rape, grass-clover mixtures). Cattle farming is quite intensive and consequently silage maize is grown in 40% of fields in a crop rotation.
In this video, the team from the University of Ljubljana describe the multiple benefits of using catch crops. These include reducing nitrate leaching, improving soil structure and aggregate stability, improving texture and increasing organic matter content and infiltration capacity. Additionally catch crops provide farms with additional income and, because of lower consumption of fertilisers, reduces the production costs.
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