Work package 3: Novel agroecosystem management strategies and tools

A subset of soil and water management practices identified in work package 1 and prioritized through consultations with partners and stakeholders will be tested in work package 3 using contrasting genotypes provided by work package 2. These innovative agroecosystem management strategies and tools will be developed and tested under combined limitations of water and N or P, with a special focus on approaches that are expected to promote below-ground interactions. This work package  will investigate the diversity and functioning of roots/rhizosphere microbiomes and their interactions with the plant, notably (i) in rotations with legumes (in bread wheat and potato), (ii) through growing mixtures of crop genotypes (in durum wheat) or (iii) by applying microbial inoculants containing combinations of strains of bacteria including endophytic bacteria (e.g. Pseudomonas or Bacillus) and fungi (e.g. Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF) or Trichoderma), with fertilizer additives and placement strategies (in wheat and potato). On-station experiments will be conducted in the context of both conventional and organic farming conditions, as well as through the implementation of reduced tillage practices and conservation agriculture systems. This will result in a selection of management innovations to be tested on-farm in a broader range of pedo-climatic conditions (work package 5). Work package 3 will also contribute to refining DSS that are most promising for improving resource efficiency in crops, being based on "real-time" remote-sensing and models incorporating genotype-dependent information.

Objectives

  • Improve crop performance of bread wheat exposed to combined but variable limitations of water and N (or N and P) by including various approaches used in conventional, organic or conservation agriculture (reduced tillage, organic fertilizers, rotation with legumes) and other approaches (microbial inoculants, refinement of decision support tools), and thereby facilitate the exchange of knowledge between the organic and conventional sector (Tasks 3.1 and 3.2)
  • Improve crop performance of durum wheat exposed to combined but variable limitations of water and N by using crop genotype mixtures and refinement of decision support tools (Task 3.2)
  • Improve crop performance of potato exposed to combined but variable limitations of water and nutrients (P or N) by rotation with legumes and microbial inoculants (Tasks 3.1 and 3.2)
  • Improve our understanding of the interactions between the most effective crop management practices (rotational design, tillage practices, microbial inoculants, genotype mixtures) and genotypes that improve nutrient use efficiency and drought stress tolerance in the target crops (bread wheat, durum wheat, potato) as well as to improve our understanding on below- and above-ground interactions associated with nutrient use efficiency and drought tolerance in the target crops (Task 3.2)
  • Evaluate / select management strategies considering beneficial below-/above-ground interactions as well as the feasibility to implement practices that enhance the field performance of the target crops (Task 3.3)

Contact

  • Dr. Angela Sessitsch, AIT, Work package leader
  • Brice Dupuis, AGROSCOPE, Work package co-leader