Project news How can farmers adapt fertilization to extreme weather conditions?

Maize in drought
Maize under drought conditions

In drought conditions, fertilizers remain idle; in a rainstorm, they wash away. How can farmers adapt fertilization and/or their cropping system to these extreme weather conditions? With the VLM project "Climate Adaptive Practices for Reducing Nutrient Losses," we explore how nutrient management can be tailored to a changing climate.

How can we adjust fertilization to the climate?

With successive versions of the fertilization legislation (MAP), farmers and policy makers in Flanders have gained experience in trying to control nutrient losses during and after fertilization. However, we note that climate change is bringing longer periods of drought more often, as well as more unpredictable heavy rains. One situation prevents the plants from making optimal use of nutrients because they remain relatively inert in the soil due to lack of water. The other makes erosion, compaction, soil surface sealing and eutrophication more likely. The question is how can fertilization and, by extension, the cropping system be adapted with the goal of minimizing adverse environmental and climate impacts?

Waar should we put the focus?

This desktop study was commissioned by the Flemish Land Agency and coordinated by the Soil Science Service of Belgium. The project includes a literature study consisting of 3 parts. In part 1, the efficiency of existing legal provisions concerning manure production and manure use is investigated. To what extent do they take into account the expected climate change? In part 2, the fractional fertilization of potatoes and maize is studied. In part 3, innovative practices and techniques are examined that could be of benefit in a future agricultural exploitation in Flanders. Prior to the actual literature study, online workshops and discussion groups were organized with experts in collaboration with the ILVO Center of Expertise for Agriculture and Climate (ILVO-ELK) in order to work out which aspects of the legal provisions and innovative techniques should be the focus of the literature study.

Project title: Klimaatadaptieve praktijken voor het terugdringen van nutriëntenverliezen: een gerichte verkenning
Term: 2020 - 2021
Funding: Vlaamse Overheid – VLM
Coordinated by: Bodemkundige Dienst van België (Soil Service of Belgium)


Contact us

Thijs Vanden Nest

ILVO researcher

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