Ragnar Eltun

Head of Department/Head of Research

(+47) 975 83 073
ragnar.eltun@nibio.no

Place
Apelsvoll

Visiting address
Nylinna 226, 2849 Kapp

Abstract

The anticipated future changes in temperature, precipitation and snow cover caused by global warming may affect winter survival of autumn sown wheat. More variable weather conditions may cause an increased frequency of periods with alternating freezing and thawing and less stable snow covers. In the present study, the course of plant frost tolerance and growth potential was studied by exposing cold acclimated plants of winter wheat to conditions with alternating periods of freezing and thawing (either -1 °C or +5 °C), and differing durations of snow cover. Tests of frost tolerance and determination of growth potential were performed each time the temperature or snow cover conditions were changed. Periods without snow cover and + 5 °C caused dehardening, with loss of frost tolerance being more pronounced during the first dehardening period than in the second one. The ability to reharden after a dehardening period decreased towards the end of the experimental period. Mild periods during winter also seemed to exhaust plant growth potential, possibly by increasing respiration rate while photosynthesis was still restricted. The results indicate some of the challenges we may face regarding overwintering of winter wheat in a future climate.

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Abstract

The relative effects of using light (2-3 Mg) versus heavier (5-7 Mg) tractors, shallow (15 cm) versus deeper (25 cm) ploughing and on-land versus in-furrow wheel placement during ploughing were investigated from 2003 to 2006 in organic rotations (wheat or barley, green manure, oats with peas) and conventionally fertilized barley. Trials were located on loam soil in south-eastern Norway and silty clay loam in central Norway. Ploughing was performed in spring, when the topsoil moisture content was at or below field capacity, using single furrow ploughs that allowed alternative wheel placement and resulted in complete coverage of the surface by wheels each year (ca. 3 times the normal coverage during ploughing). Low tyre inflation pressures (:<= 80 kPa) were used throughout. The use of a heavy tractor increased topsoil bulk density slightly in the loam soil, and, in combination with in-furrow wheeling, it reduced air-filled pore space and air permeability at 18-22 cm. On the silty clay loam, the use of a heavy tractor did not increase bulk density, but it reduced air-filled pore space throughout the topsoil. In-furrow wheeling reduced air-filled pore space in this soil also, compared to on-land wheeling. Penetration resistance was in this soil always greater at 15-25 cm depth after shallow than after deep ploughing, especially with in-furrow rather than on-land wheeling. Shallow ploughing led on both soils to marked increases in perennial weed biomass compared to deep ploughing. Earthworms were hardly affected by the treatments, but in the loam in 2006 a higher number of individuals were found where the light rather than the heavy tractor had been used. Few significant treatment effects were found on grain yield and quality. Deep ploughing with a light tractor gave the highest wheat yield and protein content in 2 years on the loam soil, and on the silty clay loam the yield of conventionally fertilized barley was higher after deep than after shallow ploughing. In summary, limited evidence was found to support the use of on-land rather than in-furrow wheeling when ploughing is performed at favourable soil moisture and with tractor weights < 5 Mg. There is, however, reason to be wary of using heavy tractors (> 5 Mg), even under such conditions. With regard to ploughing depth in organic rotations dominated by cereals, the need to combat perennial weeds by deep ploughing weighs probably more heavily than any possible beneficial effect of shallow ploughing on stimulating nutrient turnover. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Abstract

Målet med denne studien var å jamføre risikoen for økologiske, integrerte og convensjonelle dyrkingssystem. Forsøksdata frå eit dyrkingssystem (1991-1999) på Austlandet vart brukte saman med budsjettal frå gardsbruk. Empirisk fordeling av nettoinntekt for ulike dyrkingssystem vart estimert ved hjelp av ein simuleringsmodell. Resultata syner at det økologiske systemet hadde størst variasjon i nettoinntekt, men med gjeldane tilskotsordningar og meirprisar for økologiske varer vert dette det mest økonomiske alternativet.

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Abstract

Six cropping systems, ranging from conventional arable without livestock to organic livestock farming dominated by ley, have been compared in 1990 and 2004 in SE Norway. Ley in the crop rotation increased density and biomass of earthworms and channels in both organic and conventional systems. A ley proportion higher than 25 % only increased the density of channels. Among the arable systems, the organic system had a higher density and biomass of earthworms as compared to the conventional systems. Among the fodder systems, the optimised system had the highest density of earthworms in 2004, but there were no differences between these systems in earthworm biomass or density of earthworm channels.

Abstract

The three organic cropping systems Landvik (in Grimstad), Voll (at Ås) and Kvithamar (in Stjørdal) were established in 1993 on previously conventionally farmed soils of marine origin. The six-year crop rotation at Landvik was designed for an organic stockless farm producing cash crops. These crops were fertilized with composted organic household waste from the nearby community (maximum 100 kg N ha-1) and composted waste from the system itself. The rotation at Voll was designed for an arable farm withbeef production from suckling cows (0.9 animal units ha-1), and the rotation at Kvithamar was designed for a dairy cattle farm (1.0 animal unit ha-1). During the first six years of organic farming, the soil reserves of K were slightly depleted. The nutrient balance was –250 kg K ha-1 at Voll and –420 kg K ha-1 at Landvik, and the content of easily soluble K in the plough layer decreased at these sites. At Kvithamar, however, where the K balance for six years was –380 kg ha-1, no changes in soil content of K were recorded. For P, the six-year balance was positive at Landvik, where altogether 120 kg P ha-1 was supplied from composted household waste. The P balance was negative (-40 kg ha-1) at Voll and Kvithamar, and at Voll the content of easily soluble P in the plough layer was lower in 1999 than in 1993. In the study period, the yields were variable both within and between the systems. We have not identified any trends or variations in yields that might have been directly caused by changesin soil nutrient status or other soil quality components. At Voll and Kvithamar, however, the number of earthworm and the soil macroporosity increased from 1993 to 1999, with a concurrent slight increase in the yields of leys (Voll) and grain crops and swedes (Kvithamar). In the system at Landvik the yields of potatos and carrots were higher the first two than the last four years. At this site the soil structure was good, and the porosity and earthworm activity high, during the whole study period.

Abstract

Development of environmentally and economically sound agricultural production systems is an important aim in agricultural policy and has a high priority in agricultural research worldwide. The present work uses results from the first complete crop rotation period (1990-1997) of the Apelsvoll cropping system experiment in south-eastern Norway, to discuss the effect of cropping systems and their management practices on environment, soil fertility, crop yields and the farm economy, and how this knowledge may be used to develop a more sustainable agriculture. The experiment includes conventional arable (CON-A), integrated arable (INT-A), ecological arable (ECO-A), conventional forage (CON-F), integrated forage (INT-F) and ecological forage (ECO-F) cropping systems which were established on model farms of 0.2 ha. On the basis of nutrient runoff, soil erosion and pesticide contamination, the following ranking from the most to the least favourable was made for environmental effects: INT-F> ECO-F> ECO-A> INT-A> CON-F> CON-A. Environmental effects such as N and P runoff losses were very much linked to the proportion of ley in the system. Thus, major improvements to reduce the effects of agriculture on nutrient runoff, cannot be achieved without changing the cropping systems in the direction of more mixed farming with reduced cropping intensity. The nutrient balance calculations showed that there were considerable deficits in the ecological systems, a fact which must be taken into consideration in the development of sustainable ecological cropping systems. The yield reduction experienced with integrated and ecological cropping, relative to conventional cropping, was smaller for forage crops and potatoes than for cereals. This suggests that it is easier to maintain the yield level by reduced cropping intensity in mixed farming systems with livestock than in arable farming systems without livestock. Because of the premium prices and government subsidies to ecological farming, the economic results were equally good in the ecological systems as in the conventional ones. Economically, integrated farming was less favourable than the other systems. It is concluded that, overall, integrated and ecological forage systems results in the least environmental harm, and based upon the present government subsidies, the forage systems also seem the most profitable, along with the ecological arable system.

Abstract

The effect of six cropping systems (rotations of either mainly arable or mainly forage crops) on the soil N content was evaluated using mass balances of total N, and the usefulness of such N balances to predict N runoff (total N losses via drainage and surface water) was investigated. All the arable cropping systems resulted in a net reduction in the calculated soil N pool, and the reduction increased with decreasing N input. Only the forage system with the highest N input maintained the initial soil N content. Mass N balances were found to be a useful tool for predicting N runoff, as up to 87% of the variation in N runoff could be explained.