The FertilCrop project involves close cooperation of experts in the areas of weed control, soil physics and biology, plant nutrition, green manures, composting, climate change and modelling. Improved cropping methods, new techniques and decision-making aids will be developed for practitioners. "We expect the close cooperation between farmers and researchers to yield environmentally-friendly and, in particular, locally adapted cropping systems that combine science with practical expertise", explains Andreas Fliessbach, the project manager at FiBL.
The FertilCrop project builds on its predecessor TILMAN-ORG, which ran from 2012 to 2014, involving some of the same research partners. Both the research focus of the newly launched project and the approach it takes are unusual. Its focus is on interrelationships, such as between crop yields and weed growth or between good soil structure and high soil microbial activity. All the partners will draw on already existing field experiments. The abundant data will be fed into computer-based advisory and decision support models with a view to producing easy-to-apply tools for farmers. Participating farmers will learn to confidently assess soil fertility and use the computer-based decision support systems.
Over the project’s three-year term, 20 research partners in 13 European countries will collate and evaluate data from 18 field trials and case studies. This will combine the expertise of advisors, farmers and researchers.