The joint European project ECO-SERVE analyses cultivation methods (for arable farming, green areas and agroforestry systems) that show a high efficiency of water and nutrient use in varying rainfall conditions. Key features of crop plants that have a positive effect on soil substance, soil microbes and fauna should be identified to allow for a resource-oriented plant production even under varying rainfall conditions.
The project ECO-SERVE will evaluate current agricultural systems in agricultural landscapes for biodiversity-based options for adaptation to increased rainfall variability due to climate change. The options of farmers to respond to rainfall variability differ between agro-ecological zones of Europe in terms of changing crop or cultivar choices, agricultural systems and soil management. A common central element, however, is that the ways farmers can influence water infiltration and storage are closely related to how crop and residue management influence soil organic matter and, hence, carbon, nutrient and water loss or storage in soil and associated water and nutrient use efficiencies. In that sense, organic matter management is central in coping with increased variability of droughts and rainfall.
The main objectives of ECO-SERVE are the evaluation of alternatives to current agricultural systems that confer adaptation to the agro-ecological conditions that are changing in agricultural landscapes due to increased rainfall variability under climate change. We will choose (proxies of) traits of crops, plant litter (biota), rhizosphere biota and soil ecosystem engineers that enable us to evaluate the performance of different agricultural systems in space and time in terms of carbon allocation and water and nutrient use efficiencies. By focusing on the (diversity of) relevant traits, trait combinations and trait attributes rather than (the diversity of) species of plants and soil organisms, the acquired knowledge will be generic, and ultimately applicable to different agro-ecological conditions in Europe.
Work package manager (WP4)