During this month, we have received again the visit of the MSc students from Wageningen University making the Academic Consultancy Training course. FGN has commissioned two case studies in two of the pilot farms included in the LIFE AgriAdapt project, one in vineyards and another one on citrus farms.
In the case of vineyards, it is the second year we receive their visit. Last year, a group of students helped us to answer a very simple question but that was the main concern of the owners of Los Frailes farm: “according to the AgriAdapt assessments, the climate projections for the Near Future and the evolution of ACIs identified for vineyards, how will the soil – and its different components- evolve?”. The students concluded that the 3 different type of soils in the farms would evolve differently, but they warned about another fact. Erosion and therefore the loss of topsoil and organic matter could be the major threat, and this could happen both gradually but especially in extreme events. As a result, the second group of students in 2019 focused their research on mapping erosion risk and proposing solutions at farm level. They measured soil characteristics in 20 spots of the farm, they created several ArcGis layers and they have also run a RUSLE model to accurately identify areas for action.
In the case of oranges, the students focused their research on the benefits of cover crops for the adaptation to climate change. For this, a representative sample of farms including different managements was selected. In that sense, farms with different irrigation were analyzed (drip and surface), origin of plant material (sown and wild covers), management system (mowing, tilling, grazing), etc. For each case, a neighbor not having cover crops was also analyzed. In the field work, different soil parameters were measured (SOC content, moisture, biodiversity, water retention, temperature…), showing in all the cases that, despite the different types of covers and management, soil coverage was a much more interesting adaptation option than having bare soils. The outputs of the projects have been also presented in a farmer-friendly format for spreading the results within farmers.