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Farmers can take good care of the soil using modern technology

A system-oriented and technological approach to agriculture can its sustainable development and contributes to food security in harmony with climate and the environment.

[Translate to English:] Sådybden, som kan styres mere præcist ved hjælp af ny teknologi, har stor betydning for frøets spireevne og plantens vækstmuligheder. Den ønskede placering er den til venstre. Illustration: Agrointelli

It takes a long time to create, but we can ruin it quickly, if we do not take proper care of it; that is the situation our agricultural soils find themselves in in modern-day, intensive farming systems. Soil is the basis for life so it is crucial that we take good care of it. This is where modern technology and a systems approach can play important roles.  

A new report published by DCA – Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture describes knowledge and technological aspects of sustainable soil management systems, and sets out recommendations for what is necessary for achieving sustainable agricultural development. 

The report presents a vision for a new direction in agricultural development to enable production with minimal input costs and with as few short and long-term effects on the environment as possible using sustainable soil management strategies. 

- We would like to increase awareness among farmers, advisers, NGO’s and decision-makers about taking good care of the soil and the environment. We would also like to raise awareness about using technological innovations in sustainable intensification of agriculture and following sustainable management strategies, says one of the authors of the report, Honorary Professor Ole Green from the Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University. 

Field and time-specific systems are the way forward

An important principle in intelligent agriculture is to identify field variations dependent on time and place, and understand what drives the differences, with the aim of optimising work in the field and crop cultivation.     

- With the aid of modern technology, agricultural machinery and tools can be used to gather detailed and useful information from the fields, for example by using sensors. This information can then be used to for such things as adjusting and steering the machinery and tools based on time and field-specific parameters, Ole Green explains.   

The report demonstrates the importance of a systems approach in crop production via evaluation of the readiness of the field for tillage, management of traffic in the field, and implementation of spatial-specific and sensor-controlled sowing and weed management. 

Care of the soil

Degradation of agricultural soil by, among other things, anthropogenic erosion and soil compaction is a well-known problem globally. Incorrect soil management contributes not only to soil degradation and thereby yield reduction, but also to emission of greenhouse gases.   

The combination of climate change, non-sustainable soil activities, and land use changes can lead to further soil degradation, flooding, landslides, desertification and loss of biodiversity.  

- Implementation of sustainable crop systems makes it possible to address global issues, such as food and water security, reduction of negative environmental effects, prevention of human health problems as a result of soil activities, and preservation of biodiversity, says Ole Green. 

You can download the report “Sustainable Soil Management”, DCA report no. 121, May 2018 here

For more information please contact: Honorary Professor Ole Green, Department of Agroecology, email: olg@agrointelli.com, telephone: +45 5185 4406