Erosion and Runoff Laboratory (EARL)
Duration: start 2022
Funding institution: Bavarian Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry (StMELF)
Associate Researchers: Eva Resl, Johannes Mitterer, Karl Auerswald
Cooperation partners: Markus Disse (TU Munich), Peter Fiener (University of Augsburg)
Research topics: long-term erosion monitoring, optimized crop rotations and pest management
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Large areas in Bavaria, but also world-wide, where fertile soils are intensively used for agriculture are severly affected via soil erosion. Under climate change these major soil threat is expected to be amplified due to an increase of heavy rainfall events as well as increased and intensified droughts. While the effectiveness of individual soil and water conservation measured and cultivation methods has already been extensively studied, there are still subtantial knowledge gaps regarding the interaction between different measures and espcially their effects upon surface runoff generation. Furthermore, changing climatic conditions as well as the intended reduction in the use of herbicides pose new challenges to classical erosion control measures, making it more difficult to balance the interests of food production, energy generation and environmental or resource protection.
In Ruhstorf (about 120 km east of Munich) the LfL is establishing an unique long-term experimental site to study the physical, biogeochemical, social and economic factors that drive erosion: The EARL - Erosion and Runoff Laboratory. Soil and water conservation measures under different new cultivation methods (variety selection, plant protection and fertilization regimes, tillage methods, robotics and precision farming) and different crop rotations will be analysed for at least 10 years. A specific focus will be the resilience of different cultivation methods and crop rotations agains extrem weather conditions. Therefore, fourteen large-scale plots (length 150 m; width 6 m) for continous measurements and 28 mid-scale plots (lenght 50 m, width 6 m) for individal experiments will be established within an area of about 4 ha located along a slope of about 7%.