During Monday afternoon you may choose to go on one of five excursions. The different excursions are described below. After the excursions, all buses will take you to Läckö castle by lake Vänern for a social event. Buses will take you back to your hotels (Skara and Lidköping) late evening.
Research facilities at Lanna research station – leaching and gas emissions
Lanna Research station is a field station at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and is situated about 20 km west from Skara.
One of the first experiences about field studies with measurements of nutrient leaching in Sweden were gained at Lanna in the 1970s, when the first separately tile-drained field plots were constructed. Today this station hosts 7 facilities with 5-20 separately drained plots with continuous measurements of water flow and flow-proportional water sampling, and also a lysimeter facility for 48 full-length lysimeters. An additional facility has 56 plots with suction cups, enabling soil water sampling at 80 cm depth. The studies often also include grading and sampling of crops and soil for mapping the nutrient flows. In some cases also fluxes of nitrous oxide or ammonia to the atmosphere are included. The first experiment examined leaching related to fertilizer application. The studies have successively broadened to include different aspects as manure management, green manure crops, soil tillage strategies, permanent grassland, cover crops and organic crop rotations. One conventional system with different soil tillage strategies and two organic cropping systems with and without animal manure are included in the program for long-term experiments at SLU. An overall aim with the studies is to increase the understanding of how different management practices influence nitrogen and phosphorus dynamics in the cropping systems, in order to develop strategies for efficient use and low losses to the environment. By this, communication of results to the agricultural sector, e.g. through advisory service, is very important in addition to scientific publishing.
Continuous measurements of greenhouse gas emission (carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) are performed at Lanna through cooperation with the University of Gothenburg. The measurements are partly conducted within ICOS – (Integrated Carbon Observation System), which is a European research infrastructure to quantify and understand the greenhouse gas balance. Lanna is the Northern most agricultural site within ICOS and the only one within ICOS Sweden. This ICOS-station has a strong focus on elucidating the control mechanisms for production and emissions of nitrous oxide during winter periods. Moreover, since 2009 nitrous oxide emissions are monitored in a unique set-up consisting of six parallel micrometeorological measurement systems of 1 ha experimental plots each. This allows not only monitoring nitrous oxide emissions, but experimental investigation of emissions related to different treatments, e.g. fertilization. These micrometeorological systems are complemented by automatic chambers, which allow measurements of greenhouse gas emissions from e.g. the leaching plots or to investigate spatial variation within the micrometeorological plots.
Long term experiments at Bjertorp and Lanna
We will visit four experiments at Lanna research station and Bjertorp farm:
In this experiment, started in 1996, the effects of biennial application four organic amendments, compost, green manure, farmyard manure and sewage sludge (5-8.5 Mg DM ha-1 yr-1), are compared to bare fallow, unfertilized control and N fertilized treatments.
Humus balance in cereal systems vs. clover/grass systems
Cereals repeatedly grown are compared to a four-year crop rotation with three years clover/grass ley followed by one year of cereals. In the cereal part we also examine the effect of straw incorporation compared to removal. The experiment started in 1981.
Soil fertility experiment
This is part of a larger series, comprising nine sites with long-term soil fertility field experiments in south, central and north Sweden. They were started in the period 1957 – 1966. Five of the experiments, two in south and three in central Sweden, were situated at favourable sites, the others were placed at sites with less favourable climatic conditions and natural soil properties. The experimental treatments are at three levels. First, two crop rotations are compared. One is intended for milk production and includes leys, manure application and use of harvest residues for fodder. In the other rotation only arable crops without manure are grown. The crop rotations are those typical of the regions where the experiments are situated.
The second level is the phosphorus potassium (PK) application, which is based on the principle of replacement. There are four PK treatments: none, replacement of removal in the crop and two levels of extra P and K intended to achieve slow and rapid improvement of the soil PK status. The third level of test is four nitrogen (N) fertilizer levels, ranging from none to a high application.
Crop rotations with oilseed rape
The aim of this experiment is to investigate how often oilseed rape can be grown in crop rotations without reducing yield and enhancing crop diseases. Three different crop rotations, with oilseed rape every second year, every third year and every six year, are compared. The first rotation of 7 years was completed 2015 and the second is on now, 2015-2022.
At the end of this trip we will make a visit to Bjertorp slott where coffee/tee and homemade cookies will be served. Bjertorp Slott is an elegant manor hotel dating back to 1914, offering an excellent example of Swedish Art Nouveau architecture and surrounded by a lush, green park area. Today Bjertorp is a meeting place for weekend guests, parties, golfers, weddings and meetings – all those who enjoy a little luxury. We will make a visit her and have some coffee/tee and homemade cookies.
Precision agriculture technology – tools for farmers and researchers
During the excursion we will visit a farm that implements precision agriculture (PA) techniques for variable rate application (VRA) of nitrogen (N). There will be demonstrations of Yara N-sensor, CropSat and strategies for use of 0N-plots,as well as other sensors for cops and soil measurements,, some used in practical farming and some still only for research applications.
The POS organization has been a driver for PA implementation in Sweden
Precision Agriculture Sweden (POS, Precisionsodling Sverige) is a collaboration between researchers, institutes, authorities, advisory organizations, trade, industry and farmers, with a common interest in precision agriculture (PA). Since 1996, POS has been a driving force for the implementation of PA in Sweden and has led to the development of a strong national PA centre in the west of Sweden.
Yara N-sensor adjust the N rate on-the-go
A lot of the work within POS has been related to variable nutrient requirements and especially nitrogen. The first Yara N-sensor in Sweden was tested close to Skara in 1998 and the technique has been an important element in the practical PA in the area ever since.
CropSat –a free system where satellite imagery guide your VRA of N
A freely available web application for VRA of N based on vegetation indexes from satellite information, CropSat, was recently developed under POS. It has gained a lot of interest from practioners and was broadly used during its first year of operation –more than 1500 prescription files were downloaded in 2015. The service is made available through Focus on Nutrients (Greppa Näringen) and the Swedish Board of Agriculture.
0N-plots will tell you about the inherent N delivery from the soil
When calculating the N demand, the amount of N delivered by the soil is often ignored due to difficulties in estimating it. However N-mineralisation has been shown to vary largely even on mineral soils with no applications of farmyard manure and with cereals as preceding crop. A promising strategy is to leave small plots in the field without any addition of N fertilizer. The crop status in these so-called 0N-plots is useful for estimating the amount of N delivered by the soil. The handheld N-sensor has been tested as a tool for this with promising results in a number of field trials. During 2015 the advisory organisation the Rural Economy and Agricultural Societies started to offered measurements and fertilisation advises based on 0N plots to farmers.
Welcome to explore and discuss tools and strategies for optimal N application!
Visit to farms within the Swedish advisory program “Focus on nutrients”
Focus on Nutrients (Greppa Näringen) offers advice that is free of charge to the farmer. The advice benefits both the environment and the farm finances. Focus on Nutrients started in 2001 and is a joint venture between The Swedish Board of Agriculture, The County Administration Boards, The Federation of Swedish Farmers and a number of companies in the farming business. Focus on nutrients is funded by the Swedish Rural Development Program.
The purpose of the project is to:
- reduce losses of the greenhouse gases; nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide
- reduce losses of nitrate from farmland
- reduce ammonia emissions from manure
- reduce losses of phosphorus from farmland
- avoid losses of pesticides into surface and groundwater
- increase energy efficiency on farms
In order to fulfil these objectives the project focuses on increasing nutrient management efficiency by increasing awareness and knowledge. The farmer is in focus and therefore the core of the project is education and individual on-farm advisory visits. About 50 000 farm visits have been carried out since the beginning of the project. The on-farm visits are carried out by almost 300 advisors that are employed by 70 different advisory firms across Sweden. Generally, a farmer needs to farm more than 50 hectares of land and/or have more than 25 livestock units in order to qualify for the individual farm visits.
Focus on Nutrients has a very systematic approach to ensure the quality of the advisory services as well as to ensure the environmental benefits of the program. When a farmer signs up to become a member the first step is a start-up visit, which includes calculating the farm’s nutrient balance. A plan for future advisory visits is also made during the start-up visit. The advisory plan is based on the specific challenges that face the farm which in turn vary depending on the type of production and environmental impact that the farm has. There are over 30 different types of advisory visits to choose from. After approximately 3 years or 4-6 visits there is a follow-up visit where the farmer and advisor go through the changes that have been made on the farm and which environmental as well as economic benefits these changes have resulted in. To achieve any long-term changes on the farm it is important to make repeated visits.
At the excursion we will visit farms that are members of the program and have undertaken several visits and have repeated nutrient balances. Learn more about Greppa Näringen at www.greppa.nu.
Lake Vänern – water quality and fishery in the third largest lake in Europe
Vänern is the largest lake in Sweden and the third largest lake in Europe after Ladoga and Onega in Russia. It covers 5 650 km2 and its drainage area corresponds to about 10% of the total area of Sweden. It has 22 000 islands and islets and a large archipelago. The lake is drained by Göta älv which runs south west out into the sea at Gothenburg. Göta älv is an important transport artery connecting Vänern with the west coast, and about 2000 cargo ships traffic Vänern per year.
The water level is regulated through a dam and hydropower station at the outflow. Besides the production of electricity, the regulated water regime also helps preventing severe flooding. However, the reduced water level fluctuations and also the overall reduction in water level have a negative impact on fauna and vegetation. Together with decreasing number of grazing cattle it leads to increased growth of reed and shrub vegetation.
The water quality in the open lake is good and the lake supply 800 000 people with drinking water. Out in the open lake it is possible to drink the water without any purification.
Although Vänern is considered a nutrient poor lake, the levels of N is still too high. This does not have any large negative effects on the lake, except for some boxed in bays where high levels of P and N leads to eutrophication. However, about 60% of the Swedish contribution to the N lode to Skagerrak (northern part of the sea at the west coast of Sweden) originates from Vänern and Göta älv. The Vänern catchment area is dominated by forest but about 17% of the area is agricultural crop and grassland, with the largest portion south of the lake. The largest N loads to Vänern come with the southern rivers that to large extents run through agricultural land.
Recreational fishing in Vänern is free and fishing for salmon is very popular. Commercial fishing requires license and there are about 92 professional fishermen (including 3 women) in Vänern and about one third have Spiken at Kållandsö as home port. The most important fish is vendace (Coregonus albula) that is manly used for its roe. Although the levels of mercury, DDT and PCB have decreased, they are still high enough to lead to some consumption restrictions for some of the fish which of course is problematic for the fishery.
The excursion will cover aspects related to water quality as drinking water supply, and measures to reduce the nitrogen load from surrounding agricultural land. We will also make a stop at the small fishing village Spiken where we will get information about the local fishery.