Boosted harvests on deeper soils
Better harvests on existing arable land, without any increase in the use of fertiliser and with less environmental impact. That is the ambitious goal of a research programme based on a package of new cultivation measures.
One of the innovative ideas is to give crops a bigger "pantry" - a deeper top soil. To create a more root-friendly soil structure beneath the top soil, the subsoil will be deep-tilled and enriched with organic material.
The "raw materials" that are to be tested are various mixtures of fresh material (such as hay) and more stable materials (such as biochar and composted bark).
The researchers believe that harvests on fertile soils could be boosted by 10-25 percent as a result of the larger soil volume. On less fertile soils, the effect could be even greater.
Another idea is to place commercial fertilizers at a greater depth, i.e. where root growth is fastest and where uptake is not hindered by drought in the same way as happens at the surface.
The third idea is to use a form of carbon filter to remove phosphorous and residual pesticides from drainage water in order to protect watercourses and lakes further downstream.
Text: David Stephansson, SLU