Balancing indicators for sustainable intensification of crop production at field and river basin levels

Abebe Demissie Chukalla*, Pytrik Reidsma, Michelle T.H. van Vliet, João Vasco Silva, Martin K. van Ittersum, Seifeddine Jomaa, Michael Rode, Ines Merbach, Pieter R. van Oel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Adequate tools for evaluating sustainable intensification (SI) of crop production for agro-hydrological system are not readily available. Building on existing concepts, we propose a framework for evaluating SI at the field and river basin levels. The framework serves as a means to assess and visualise SI indicator values, including yield, water-use efficiency and nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE), alongside water and nitrogen surpluses and their effects on water quantity and quality. To demonstrate the SI assessment framework, we used empirical data for both the field level (the Static Fertilization Experiment at Bad Lauchstädt) and the river basin level (the Selke basin, 463 km2) in central Germany. Crop yield and resource use efficiency varied considerably from 1980 to 2014, but without clear trends. NUE frequently fell below the desirable range (<50%), exposing the environment to a large N surplus (>80 kg N ha−1). For the catchment as a whole, the average nitrate-N concentration (3.6 mg L−1) was slightly higher than the threshold of 2.5 mg L−1 nitrate-N in surface water. However, weather and climate-related patterns, due to their effects on transport capacity and dilution, influenced water quantity and quality indicators more than agronomic practices. To achieve SI of crop production in the Selke basin, irrigation and soil moisture management are required to reduce yield variability and reduce N surpluses at field level. In addition, optimum application of fertiliser and manure could help to reduce the nitrate-N concentration below the set water quality standards in the Selke basin. In this way, there is scope for increase in yields and resource use efficiencies, and thus potential reduction of environmental impacts at basin level. We conclude that the framework is useful for assessing sustainable production, by simultaneously considering objectives related to crop production, resource-use efficiency and environmental quality, at both field and river basin levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135925
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume705
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2020

Fingerprint

crop production
Catchments
Crops
river basin
Rivers
resource use
nitrate
water use efficiency
basin
Nitrates
nitrogen
Nitrogen
Water
environmental quality
crop yield
manure
dilution
environmental impact
soil moisture
Manures

Keywords

  • Crop production
  • Nitrogen-use efficiency
  • Selke Basin
  • Sustainable intensification
  • Water quality and quantity indicators
  • Water-use efficiency

Cite this

@article{444cc55af9424ba98fe6014c1a94c6db,
title = "Balancing indicators for sustainable intensification of crop production at field and river basin levels",
abstract = "Adequate tools for evaluating sustainable intensification (SI) of crop production for agro-hydrological system are not readily available. Building on existing concepts, we propose a framework for evaluating SI at the field and river basin levels. The framework serves as a means to assess and visualise SI indicator values, including yield, water-use efficiency and nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE), alongside water and nitrogen surpluses and their effects on water quantity and quality. To demonstrate the SI assessment framework, we used empirical data for both the field level (the Static Fertilization Experiment at Bad Lauchst{\"a}dt) and the river basin level (the Selke basin, 463 km2) in central Germany. Crop yield and resource use efficiency varied considerably from 1980 to 2014, but without clear trends. NUE frequently fell below the desirable range (<50{\%}), exposing the environment to a large N surplus (>80 kg N ha−1). For the catchment as a whole, the average nitrate-N concentration (3.6 mg L−1) was slightly higher than the threshold of 2.5 mg L−1 nitrate-N in surface water. However, weather and climate-related patterns, due to their effects on transport capacity and dilution, influenced water quantity and quality indicators more than agronomic practices. To achieve SI of crop production in the Selke basin, irrigation and soil moisture management are required to reduce yield variability and reduce N surpluses at field level. In addition, optimum application of fertiliser and manure could help to reduce the nitrate-N concentration below the set water quality standards in the Selke basin. In this way, there is scope for increase in yields and resource use efficiencies, and thus potential reduction of environmental impacts at basin level. We conclude that the framework is useful for assessing sustainable production, by simultaneously considering objectives related to crop production, resource-use efficiency and environmental quality, at both field and river basin levels.",
keywords = "Crop production, Nitrogen-use efficiency, Selke Basin, Sustainable intensification, Water quality and quantity indicators, Water-use efficiency",
author = "Chukalla, {Abebe Demissie} and Pytrik Reidsma and {van Vliet}, {Michelle T.H.} and Silva, {Jo{\~a}o Vasco} and {van Ittersum}, {Martin K.} and Seifeddine Jomaa and Michael Rode and Ines Merbach and {van Oel}, {Pieter R.}",
year = "2020",
month = "2",
day = "25",
doi = "10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135925",
language = "English",
volume = "705",
journal = "Science of the Total Environment",
issn = "0048-9697",
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}

Balancing indicators for sustainable intensification of crop production at field and river basin levels. / Chukalla, Abebe Demissie; Reidsma, Pytrik; van Vliet, Michelle T.H.; Silva, João Vasco; van Ittersum, Martin K.; Jomaa, Seifeddine; Rode, Michael; Merbach, Ines; van Oel, Pieter R.

In: Science of the Total Environment, Vol. 705, 135925, 25.02.2020.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Balancing indicators for sustainable intensification of crop production at field and river basin levels

AU - Chukalla, Abebe Demissie

AU - Reidsma, Pytrik

AU - van Vliet, Michelle T.H.

AU - Silva, João Vasco

AU - van Ittersum, Martin K.

AU - Jomaa, Seifeddine

AU - Rode, Michael

AU - Merbach, Ines

AU - van Oel, Pieter R.

PY - 2020/2/25

Y1 - 2020/2/25

N2 - Adequate tools for evaluating sustainable intensification (SI) of crop production for agro-hydrological system are not readily available. Building on existing concepts, we propose a framework for evaluating SI at the field and river basin levels. The framework serves as a means to assess and visualise SI indicator values, including yield, water-use efficiency and nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE), alongside water and nitrogen surpluses and their effects on water quantity and quality. To demonstrate the SI assessment framework, we used empirical data for both the field level (the Static Fertilization Experiment at Bad Lauchstädt) and the river basin level (the Selke basin, 463 km2) in central Germany. Crop yield and resource use efficiency varied considerably from 1980 to 2014, but without clear trends. NUE frequently fell below the desirable range (<50%), exposing the environment to a large N surplus (>80 kg N ha−1). For the catchment as a whole, the average nitrate-N concentration (3.6 mg L−1) was slightly higher than the threshold of 2.5 mg L−1 nitrate-N in surface water. However, weather and climate-related patterns, due to their effects on transport capacity and dilution, influenced water quantity and quality indicators more than agronomic practices. To achieve SI of crop production in the Selke basin, irrigation and soil moisture management are required to reduce yield variability and reduce N surpluses at field level. In addition, optimum application of fertiliser and manure could help to reduce the nitrate-N concentration below the set water quality standards in the Selke basin. In this way, there is scope for increase in yields and resource use efficiencies, and thus potential reduction of environmental impacts at basin level. We conclude that the framework is useful for assessing sustainable production, by simultaneously considering objectives related to crop production, resource-use efficiency and environmental quality, at both field and river basin levels.

AB - Adequate tools for evaluating sustainable intensification (SI) of crop production for agro-hydrological system are not readily available. Building on existing concepts, we propose a framework for evaluating SI at the field and river basin levels. The framework serves as a means to assess and visualise SI indicator values, including yield, water-use efficiency and nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE), alongside water and nitrogen surpluses and their effects on water quantity and quality. To demonstrate the SI assessment framework, we used empirical data for both the field level (the Static Fertilization Experiment at Bad Lauchstädt) and the river basin level (the Selke basin, 463 km2) in central Germany. Crop yield and resource use efficiency varied considerably from 1980 to 2014, but without clear trends. NUE frequently fell below the desirable range (<50%), exposing the environment to a large N surplus (>80 kg N ha−1). For the catchment as a whole, the average nitrate-N concentration (3.6 mg L−1) was slightly higher than the threshold of 2.5 mg L−1 nitrate-N in surface water. However, weather and climate-related patterns, due to their effects on transport capacity and dilution, influenced water quantity and quality indicators more than agronomic practices. To achieve SI of crop production in the Selke basin, irrigation and soil moisture management are required to reduce yield variability and reduce N surpluses at field level. In addition, optimum application of fertiliser and manure could help to reduce the nitrate-N concentration below the set water quality standards in the Selke basin. In this way, there is scope for increase in yields and resource use efficiencies, and thus potential reduction of environmental impacts at basin level. We conclude that the framework is useful for assessing sustainable production, by simultaneously considering objectives related to crop production, resource-use efficiency and environmental quality, at both field and river basin levels.

KW - Crop production

KW - Nitrogen-use efficiency

KW - Selke Basin

KW - Sustainable intensification

KW - Water quality and quantity indicators

KW - Water-use efficiency

U2 - 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135925

DO - 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135925

M3 - Article

VL - 705

JO - Science of the Total Environment

JF - Science of the Total Environment

SN - 0048-9697

M1 - 135925

ER -