Sustainable strategies for the improvement of seriously degraded agricultural areas: The example of Pistachia vera L

EC Environment - Life Programme

With the contribution of the LIFE + financial instrument of the European Union

Cultivation Management Software

Current available version for download is: v1.2.

Software prerequisites: Windows operating systems: 7, 8, 8.1, 10 (x86/x64).

You may download the user manual here: User Manual (pdf 3.7MB).

We would highly appreciate your feedback by filling out the software evaluation questionnaire, to help us improve future versions.

For any support inquiries or feedback you may contact the development team at info[@] agrostrat.gr using "SUPPORT" as subject title.

- Evaluation
- Consultancy
- Connection with the Regional Authority

The Cultivation Management Software of AgroStrat

In the framework of Action A4 the beneficiaries developed a software that can be used in the entire Mediterranean region and promotes sustainable agricultural practices for Pistachia vera L. cultivation. The beneficiaries will also provide instructions on how this unique tool can be used for other cultivations, as well.

The software provides consultancy on:

  • soil, irrigation water, composts and waste quality
  • fertilization
  • use of composts and wastes for fertilization
  • use of composts for soil improvement

Therefore the three features of the Decision-Making Tool are:

Evaluation

By inserting results of the chemical analysis, the software provides a fast evaluation of the quality of soil, irrigation water, composts or organic wastes.

Consultancy

The end-user indicates the exact position of his/her cultivated field by inserting field coordinates or by finding the field on Google Earth.

In case of Aegina island, the software considers the results of the chemical analysis of soil, water, composts  provided by the user and in case of missing soil properties, data from the thematic maps are automatically inserted. Fertilization consultancy and sustainable use of composts and organic waste are provided. For other areas, the software considers the results of the chemical analysis.

Connection with the Regional Authority

This unique software feature connects farmers with the Regional Authority via Internet. The farmers may receive additional consultancy by the scientists of the Authority. It also supports networking between farmers, authorities and citizens.

How it works

Evaluation: the user should only insert the results of the chemical analysis received from the lab. Soil, water, compost and organic wastes data can be inserted in the software, which then provides a detailed evaluation of the quality of soil, water or of the materials of interest. European legislative restrictions for wastes or orgnanic materials landspreading are taking into account for the evaluation of composts and wastes properties.

Consultancy: The user has to identify field location (in case for Aegina Island) and identify the resources and the materials that will be used. Therefore, the user may select to receive only fertilization consultancy by inserting only soil analysis results. If chemical analysis results for irrigation water to be used are available, the user has the potential to insert also water parameters. The software uses all these results and provides the most appropriate fertilization scenario. If some of the soil properties are not included in the lab results, then the user may select to use soil data from the Soil Thematic Maps developed during the project.

If the farmer wants to use also composts or other organic wastes on soil for fertilization purposes, then the user has to insert also the chemical analysis of these materials together with the above data. As a first stage  the software evaluates the safety level of composts/organic amendments considering legislative restrictions and if the materials can be used on soil then a detailed scenario is provided to the user.

For other areas, fertilization consultancy can be given, however, considering only the results of the chemical analyses. This, however, does not mean that the tool can't be implemented also at other areas. The beneficiaries will provide all appropriate data and instructions for the development of soil thematic maps and the conformation of the software to other areas properties and characteristics.

Cultivation Management Software-Home page

Cultivation Management Software-Data entry page

Cultivation Management Software-Data evaluation page

Connection with the Regional Authority: Although a detailed fertilization consultancy can be received by using the software, the user may be connected with the scientists of the Regional Authority and receive additional information or assistance. This is feasible via internet and due to a specific feature of the software. The farmer can select the fields for which additional assistance or advices are needed and send chemical analyses and the software outputs to the Regional Authority. This application can be also installed at local authorities, ministries or farmers associations. 

Through this application, the authorities can receive environmental and especially soil data, be able to identify potential problems and design future management strategies.

Continuous monitoring of soil quality

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that the following main elements of a soil protection strategy should be implemented:

  1. Identification and reviewing sources of available information on soils that already exist in an areas under study, including information on existing soil monitoring programmes and assess if existing information can provide valuable historical information in relation to soil quality.
  2. Identification and selection of a set of soil quality indicators that can be used to monitor soil quality, both spatially and temporally.
  3. Development of a set of standards to be used for the assessment of soil quality in relation to monitoring results from soil quality indicators.
  4. Design and establishment of a soil quality monitoring network, which can be applied across a wide range of soil types under different land uses, which monitors soil quality changes over time.
  5. Development of a Code of Good Practices for soil, which identifies pressures and impacts on soils and outlines best practices in relation to sustainable soil management under different land uses.

In the light of the above recommendations, AgroStrat developed and will implement during action B2 all appropriate elements for an efficient soil monitoring strategy at intensively cultivated Mediterranean areas.

In specific:

  1. Soil, water and wastes quality of the pilot area was assessed during Action A2 for 1 1/2 years by collecting samples from many sites every 2 or 3 months. Pressures and impacts were identified and assessed.
  2. A set of soil indicators, appropriate for intensively cultivated areas was developed. Eight soil indicators were selected, i.e. electrical conductivity, organic matter, total nitrogen, total polyphenols, available phosphorus, exchangeable potassium, available copper and available zinc.
  3. Threshold values for the eight indicators were identified by reviewing the international literature and also data from the Mediterranean region.
  4. A monitoring networking between Authorities, farmers associations, farmers and citizens will be soon developed. For the effective monitoring of soil quality, the beneficiaries will provide the network with a set of tools, which are:  
    • The Cultivation Management Software
    • An extra software developed during LIFE PROSODOL project and can be used by farmers and Authorities to monitor the eight soil indicators in regular time intervals. This software provides graphical presentation of each one of the selected indicators and by this way the values of the parameters can be continuously monitored. The user needs to insert values of the indicators and evaluate graphically the results upon an XY point diagram, which is divided into risk zones (no risk, low risk, high risk). An example of the tool is presented in Figure 1 below.
      Moreover, the user may also insert other measurement data, such as location properties, date recording information, area coordinates.
    • An irrigation forecasting application for Aegina island (with a potential to be extented to other Mediterranean areas) will be soon developed by using the meteorological station installed in the pilot area and also the soil map of the island.
    • A portable field instrument that can be used by farmers to measure soil pH, moisture and electrical conductivity by their own. Thus, between two soil samplings and chemical analyses or before/after specific practices, the farmer may use the equipment to measure and assess these soil properties. The measurements are stored in a SD card and through a GPS application, the stored values can be inserted in the Cultivation Decision-Making Tool and assigned to the specific field. The software then compares the inserted values with the stored ones and notifies the user for potential problems.
    • An application will be soon developed and be available from this web site, which estimates the carbon footprint and the energy consumption due to cultivation practices. The farmers can use the application by inserting data regularly (energy consumption, fuels, fertilizers applied, field equipments used, etc) and thus conform their practices accordingly.
    • A Code of Good Practices will be developed and delivered to all interested stakeholders which will enhance the implementation of AgroStrat outputs.

Figure 1. LIFE PROSODOL monitoring tool: Graphical presentation of soil available Phosphorus. The three zones of risk level are seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top