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Dr. Renaldas Žydelis had an internship at Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany

Dr. Renaldas Žydelis had an internship at Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany

On 29 May – 6 July Dr. Renaldas Žydelis, a Senior Researcher of Department of Plant Nutrition and Agroecology, Institute of Agriculture, LAMMC, had an internship at Agrosphere Institute (IBG-3), (Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH), Germany.

The aim of this internship was to assess the applicability of the AgroC model in simulating the growth processes of spring barley on marginal sandy soils.

The increasing world population as well as changing climate pose challenges for agriculture. It is projected that by 2050 the world’s population will surpass 9 billion, therefore, food production will have to be significantly increased ensuring the stability and quality of food supply. From a European perspective, there is only a limited availability of land suitable for agriculture, hence, it is crucial to integrate idle and marginal lands into the cycle of agricultural production.

Field experiments with barley were carried out at the Vokė Branch, Institute of Agriculture, LAMMC, in 2020–2023 during the FACCE SURPLUS project “Biofortified and climate-resilient food and fodder production on marginal soils“ (BioFoodOnMars).

The experiments included various plant, soil and environmental measurements which were used to calibrate and validate the AgroC model during this internship in Germany.

The AgroC model, developed in Germany, can be used to analyse the plant-soil-water system. Also, many plant or soil parameters can be freely modified depending on the objective of the research, which makes the model adaptable to different plants and soils.

The data collected over three years, i.e., the increase of yield in leaves, stems and grain, leaf area, soil moisture and temperature changes at different horizons were used during the internship while modelling the growth and development of barley. Once the model was calibrated, it was used to analyse different scenarios of fertilization, i.e. to simulate the efficiency of increasing nitrogen fertilizer rates: N0, N10, N20, N30...N200.

The initial simulation results have demonstrated that the most efficient nitrogen fertilisation is up to 100 kg/ha. Later, if fertilisation rate is increased, nitrogen leaching to surface waters also increases and the plants are not able to uptake higher amounts of nitrogen mainly due to the permanent stress of moisture. It has been also determined that barley grain has a yield potential of around 6 t/ha, however, moisture and nutrient deficiencies may lead to yield reductions of up to 80%.

It should be noted that the project in which the field data was collected has already finished, but the data is still used and analysed as part of the postdoctoral fellowship project: “Crop Yield Prediction under Future Climate Conditions Using the Integrated Systems of Machine Learning and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles“ funded by Research Council of Lithuania. 

Prepared by: Dr. Renaldas Žydelis