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Soil-specific agro-ecological strategies for sustainable land use – A case study by using MicroLEIS DSS in Sevilla Province (Spain)

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Soil-specific agro-ecological strategies for sustainable land use – A case study by using MicroLEIS DSS in Sevilla Province (Spain)
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  See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222657213 Soil-specific agro-ecological strategies forsustainable land use - A case study by usingMicroLEIS DSS in Sevilla...  Article   in  Land Use Policy · October 2009 DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2009.01.004 CITATIONS 36 READS 148 5 authors , including: Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects: Land Evaluation- GIS- Soil Survey   View projectMagnetic soil properties and their applications. Las propiedades magnéticas de los suelos y susaplicaciones: contaminación, clasificación, cartografía y uso del fuego en la agricultura   View projectD. de la RosaRoyal Academy of Sciences, Sevilla, Spain 75   PUBLICATIONS   816   CITATIONS   SEE PROFILE M. Anaya-RomeroEvenor-Tech, SLU, Solutions for soil use and … 69   PUBLICATIONS   344   CITATIONS   SEE PROFILE E. Diaz-PereiraSpanish National Research Council 18   PUBLICATIONS   494   CITATIONS   SEE PROFILE Norberto HerediaUniversity of Alcalá 6   PUBLICATIONS   117   CITATIONS   SEE PROFILE All content following this page was uploaded by D. de la Rosa on 07 May 2014. The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file. All in-text references underlined in blue are added to the srcinal documentand are linked to publications on ResearchGate, letting you access and read them immediately.  Land Use Policy 26 (2009) 1055–1065 Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Land Use Policy  journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/landusepol Soil-specific agro-ecological strategies for sustainable land use – A case study byusing  MicroLEIS DSS   in Sevilla Province (Spain) Diego de la Rosa ∗ , Maria Anaya-Romero, Elvira Diaz-Pereira, Norberto Heredia, Farzin Shahbazi Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Institute of Natural Resources and Agrobiology (IRNAS), Reina Mercedes 10, 41012 Sevilla, Spain a r t i c l e i n f o  Article history: Received 8 February 2008Received in revised form 13 January 2009Accepted 16 January 2009 Keywords: Agro-ecological land evaluationBiophysical modellingDecision support toolsLand degradationSoil managementSoil protectionSoil quality a b s t r a c t To reverse the negative environmental impacts of agriculture, a land evaluation decision support sys-tem (DSS) known as  MicroLEIS-DSS   was used to design the most sustainable land use and managementpractices for selected Mediterranean benchmark sites in Sevilla Province, Southern Spain. This DSS isbasedonthemultifunctionalevaluationofsoilquality,usinginputdatacollectedinstandardsoilsurveys,and with particular reference to the peculiarities of the Mediterranean region. Specific agro-ecologicalstrategies to prevent soil degradation in the benchmark sites were designed within two major topics: (i)strategies related to land use planning at a regional level: segregation of agricultural lands, restorationof marginal areas, diversification of crop rotation, and identification of vulnerability areas; and (ii) thoserelated to land management planning at a farm level: organic matter restoration, formulation of tillagepracticesandworkabilitytiming,optimummachineryuse,andinputrationalization.Thepredictedresultsofapplyingthe12agro-ecologicallandevaluationmodelconstituentsof  MicroLEIS DSS  arepresentedanddiscussed for each application site. The main conclusion of this paper is that using soil type informa-tion in decision-making is at the heart for sustainable use and management of agricultural land. Thisagro-ecologicalapproachcanbeespeciallyusefulwhenformulatingsoil-specificagriculturalpracticestoreverse environmental degradation, based on the spatial variability of soils and related resources.Published by Elsevier Ltd. Introduction Agro-ecologicalinnovationsarenecessarytodevelopanewandtruly sustainable agriculture that reverses environmental deterio-ration at the same time augmenting the supply of food (Uphoff,2002). This strategy of future agricultural development is basedon similar scientific principles considered by FAO in its Agro-ecological Zoning Project (AEZ; FAO, 1978) which was a milestone in the history of land evaluation Technical guides for implement-ing agro-ecological approaches must be prepared in considerabledetail,andlocalizedsothattheyapplyspecificallytothegeographicsite for which they are intended. In this way, research informa-tionproducedbyacademic,government,andprivateorganizationsmust be consistently compiled, evaluated, and formatted for useby specialists and lay people (Arnold, 2004). As the best example, the Electronic Field Office Technical Guides (eFOTG; USDA, 2004)are the primary scientific references for the US Natural ResourcesConservation Service. They contain specific information about theconservation of soil and related resources. Appropriate parts of the eFOTG are automated as databases, computer programs, and ∗ Corresponding author. Tel.: +34 954 624711; fax: +34 954 620315. E-mail address:  diego@irnase.csic.es (D. de la Rosa). other electronic-based elements, in order to make recommenda-tions more soil-specific.In Europe, environmental soil protection has long been domi-nated by a reactive approach. On occasion, urgent measures mightbe taken to tackle particular soil degradation hot spots, but therehas generally been little awareness of the overall issues. This hasfinally begun to change, and we are now beginning to see the startof a proactive approach to soil protection strategies to promotesustainable land use and management (Stoate et al., 2001). For example, in 2002 the Commission of the European CommunitiesissuedaCommunicationentitled“TowardsaThematicStrategyforSoil Protection” (CEC, 2002). This was a first step towards an inte- gratedstrategyontheissueattheEuropeanlevel,andwasfollowedin 2004 by the European Strategy for Soil Protection (CEC, 2004).Despitetheprogresstowardsaproactivestrategy,however,thereisasyetnopublicdebateonacoherentandintegratedsoilprotectionstrategy. There is still a long way to go, and the debate lags one ortwodecadesbehindthat,forexample,theissuesofclimatechange(Held et al., 2003).Specific agricultural use and management systems on land thatismostsuitableaccordingtoagro-ecologicalpotentialitiesandlim-itations is the best way to achieve sustainability (FAO, 1978). For example,theNorwegianSoilInformationSystemisbeingusedasabasic instrument for the elaboration of soil tillage maps to reduce 0264-8377/$ – see front matter. Published by Elsevier Ltd.doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2009.01.004  1056  D. de la Rosa et al. / Land Use Policy 26 (2009) 1055–1065 soilerosion(Arnoldussen,2003).Thenewconceptofsoilqualityas “thecapacityofaspecifickindofsoiltofunctionwithitssurround-ings, sustain plant and animal productivity, maintain or enhancesoil, water and air quality and support human health and habi-tation” (Karlen et al., 1997), based on data collected in standard soil surveys, appears to be the most appropriate framework. Thesoil physical, chemical, and biological quality is of manifest impor-tance in achieving sustainable agricultural systems, which balanceproductivity and environmental protection. Although soil biolog-ical quality indicators are not considered in land evaluation, thisagro-ecological approach can be a useful procedure for analyzingthe soil physical and chemical quality from the viewpoint of long-term changes (Ball and De la Rosa, 2006). Emerging technology in dataandknowledgeengineeringprovidesexcellentpossibilitiesinland evaluation analysis. Such analysis involves the developmentand linkage of integrated databases, biophysical models, computerprograms, and optimization and spatialization tools, which con-stitute the innovative decision support systems (DSS). DSSs arecomputerized technology that can be used to support complexdecision-making and problem-solving (Shim et al., 2002). Examples of applying an agro-ecological land evaluation deci-sion support system  MicroLEIS DSS   (De la Rosa et al., 2004) in selected application areas of Sevilla Province, Southern Spain, arepresented and discussed in this paper. Concrete measures to com-batsoildegradationonagriculturallands,withspecialreferencetothe Mediterranean region, are analyzed within two major topics:(i) land use planning at a regional level, and (ii) land managementrecommendations at a farm level. The paper is intended to showthe possibilities of using an agro-ecological land evaluation deci-sionsupportsystem,suchas MicroLEISDSS  ,todrawupsite-specificsustainable agricultural practices. The main aim is to point out theimportanceofusingsoilinformationindecision-makingregardingtheenvironmentallysustainableuseandmanagementofland.Theeffects of soil use and management practices on crop growth andeconomic costs are not basically considered in this paper. Materials and methods Benchmark sites The selected nine benchmark sites for application are locatedin the Mediterranean Province of Sevilla, Andalucia region, South-ern Spain. The climate is semi-arid, with mild rainy winters, andhot dry summers of high solar radiation and a high rate of evap-oration. This seasonal contrast is exacerbated by the erratic andunpredictable rainfall distribution from year to year, and crops cansufferfrommoisturedeficitsevenduringyearsreceivingthemeanprecipitation.In the Mediterranean region, agricultural red and reddish-brown soils, of heavy-textured topsoil and permeable subsoil, arebasicallydevelopedovercalcareousmaterials(AlfisolsandIncepti-sols).Theyareverysensitivetowatererosion.Heavydarkclaysoilsaredevelopedinlevelareasanddepressions(Vertisols).Thesesoils,of high natural fertility, present management problems becauseof unfavorable physical properties and shrink/swell characteris-tics. Both red and dark soils, along with alluvial Entisols, are usedextensivelyforMediterraneancropproduction:annualcrops,olive,vineyards, and citrus. Non-agricultural shallow and stony soils(Entisols, Inceptisols, and Alfisols) of the uplands, over calcareousand non-calcareous materials, are dominated by wooded pasture-lands (“dehesa” in Spanish language) which are considered veryappropriate land use systems for these poor soils (Verheye and Dela Rosa, 2005).On the basis of the semi-detailed natural resources surveysof Sevilla Province, nine benchmark sites were selected (Fig. 1).A general description of each site is summarized in Table 1. The approximate geographic coordinates of Sevilla Province are 36 ◦ 51 ′ to 38 ◦ 12 ′ N and 5 ◦ 04 ′ to 6 ◦ 30 ′ W. Its slopes range from <2 to 30%,and the elevation is from 2 to 740m above sea level. The totalprovinceareais1,404,500ha.Foreachofthebenchmarksite,arep-resentative meteorological station was selected, based on monthlymean climate variables for the long period 1961–1990. The typi-cal soils were selected because they occupy large proportions of the corresponding natural region. The morphological and analyti-cal properties of the typical soil profiles were taken from the soilprofile database of   SEISnet   (De la Rosa, 2001). The MicroLEIS DSS  The applied soil protection decision support system ( MicroLEIS DSS  ; De la Rosa et al., 2004), through its 12 land evaluation models, analyses the influence of selected soil indicators on crit-ical soil functions referred to: (1) land productivity (agriculturaland forest soil suitability, crop growth, and natural fertility),and (2) land degradation (runoff and leaching potential, erosionresistance, subsoil compaction, workability, and pollutant absorp-tion and mobility) (Table 2). These empirical-based models were basically developed as sophisticated tools based on artificial intel-ligence techniques, using soil information and knowledge of theMediterranean region. Input variables are physical/chemical soilparameters (e.g. useful depth, stoniness, texture, water retention,reaction, carbonate content, salinity, or cation exchange capacity)collected in standard soil surveys, monthly agro-climatic parame-ters for long-term period, and agricultural crop and managementcharacteristics.Sincethelate1980s, MicroLEIS DSS  hasevolvedsig-nificantly towards a user-friendly agro-ecological decision supportsystem for environmentally sustainable soil use and management.The design philosophy is a toolkit approach, integrating manysoftware instruments: databases, statistics, expert systems, neu-ral networks, Web and GIS applications, and other informationtechnologies. Input data warehousing, land evaluation modelling,model application software and output result presentation are themain development modules of this system. MicroLEIS DSS   has proved to be an appropriate methodology forconverting knowledge on land use and management systems, asestimated by research scientists, into information that is readilycomprehensible to policy makers and farmers, on Mediterraneansoils. Its land evaluation models allow a site-specific application,providing an effective tool for assessing the suitable land use andmanagement for a particular location. All the information neededto select the suitable land use and management can be enteredseparately, hence it is possible to establish the exact soil, climate,and farming conditions.The  MicroLEIS DSS   models are described in detail by De laRosa (1979), De la Rosa et al. (1981, 1992, 1993, 1999), Farroni et al. (2002), Horn et al. (2002) and Sanchez et al. (1982). All the components are available free and ready-for-use from thefollowing Internet site address: www.microleis.com. A CD-ROMversionof  MicroLEISDSS  isincludedintothebook“EvaluaciónAgro-ecologica de Suelos para un Desarrollo Rural Sostenible” (De laRosa,2008).Presently,a spinoff  fromtheCSIC(namedEvenor-Tech;www.evenor-tech.com) is being launched in basis to the  MicroLEIS  technology. Results and discussion Agricultural land use decisions in the selected nine benchmarksites of Sevilla Province (Table 1) based on  MicroLEIS DSS   models(De la Rosa et al., 2004) are presented in two major groups: land  D. de la Rosa et al. / Land Use Policy 26 (2009) 1055–1065  1057 Fig. 1.  Location of the selected nine benchmark sites within the Mediterranean Province of Sevilla, Southern Spain.  Table 1 General description of the selected nine benchmark sites in the Mediterranean Province of Sevilla, for applying the  MicroLEIS DSS  .Benchmark site Natural region Typical soil profile a USDA-98 Soil classification Average slope (%) Elevation (m) Approx. extension (10 3 ha)SE01 Alcores SEX001 Calcic Haploxeralf 2–8 80 18.0SE02 Aljarafe SE0201 Typic Rhodoxeralf 2–8 100 68.5SE03 Campina SE0302 Typic Chromoxerert 8–16 60 330.5SE04 Estepa SE0101 Entic Haploxeroll 16–30 480 140.0SE05 Marismas SE0103 Salorthidic Fluvaquent  ≤ 2 2 103.5SE06 Sierra Norte SE0401 Palexerult 8–16 740 374.7SE07 Sierra Sur SE0701 Vertic Xerorthent 16–30 250 115.5SE08 Terrazas SE0415 Aquic Haploxeralf 2–8 30 133.0SE09 Vega SE0501 Typic Xerofluvent  ≤ 2 10 121.0 a From the  SEISnet   soil profile database (De la Rosa, 2001).  Table 2 MicroLEIS   land evaluation models according to the soil function evaluated and the concrete strategy supported for environmentally sustainable agriculture.Constituent model Land evaluation issue (Modelling approach) Specific strategy supported Land use planning-relatedTerraza  Bioclimatic deficiency (Parametric) Quantification of crop water supply and frost risk limitation Cervatana  General land capability (Qualitative) Segregation of best agricultural and marginal agricultural lands Sierra  Forestry land suitability (Qualitative/Neuralnetwork)Restoration of semi-natural habitats in marginal agricultural lands: selection of forest species (61)  Almagra  Agricultural soil suitability (Qualitative) Diversification of crop rotation in best agricultural lands: for traditional crops(12)  Albero  Agricultural soil productivity (Statistical) Quantification of crop yield: for wheat, maize, and cotton Raizal  Soil erosion risk (Expert system) Identification of vulnerability areas with soil erosion problems Marisma  Natural soil fertility (Qualitative) Identification of areas with soil fertility problems and accommodation of fertilizer needs Soil management-relatedImpelERO  Erosion/impact/mitigation (Expertsystem/Neural network)Formulation of management practices: row spacing, residues treatment,operation sequence, number of implements, and implement type  Aljarafe  Soil plasticity and soil workability (Statistical) Identification of soil workability timing  Alcor   Subsoil compaction and soil trafficability(Statistical)Site-adjusted soil tillage machinery: implement type, wheel load, and tireinflation  Arenal  General soil contamination (Expert system) Rationalization of total soil input application Pantanal  Specific soil contamination (Expert system) Rationalization of specific soil input application: N and P fertilizers, urbanwastes, and pesticides  1058  D. de la Rosa et al. / Land Use Policy 26 (2009) 1055–1065  Table 3 Bioclimatic deficiency and land capability evaluation results from application of the  Terraza  and  Cervatana  qualitative models a , respectively.Benchmark site Bioclimatic deficiency b (GPL, day) Land capability class c Best agricultural land Marginal agricultural landSE01 250 S2rSE02 210 S2rbSE03 250 S2tlSE04 210 S3tSE05 d 210 S2lbSE06 270 NtlSE07 250 NlrSE08 210 S3lSE09 210 S1 a Development, inputs and validity of these models are described in De la Rosa et al. (1992). b GPL, length of growing period. c Landcapabilityclasses:S1,excellent;S2,good;S3,moderate;N,notsuitable.Limitationfactors:t,topography:slopetypeandslopegradient;l,soil:usefuldepth,texture,stoniness/rockiness, drainage, and salinity; r, erosion risk: soil erodibility, slope, vegetation cover, and rainfall erosivity; b, bioclimatic deficiency (GPL). d The salty soil (SE05) has been evaluated supposing that previously it will be recovered by the elimination of the soluble salts. use planning and land use management. As shown in Table 2, land useplanningdecisionsaresupportedessentiallybylandcapabilityandlandsuitabilitymodels,andlandusemanagementdecisionsorsoil management recommendations by land vulnerability models.Land use planning is generally aimed at a regional level, and landmanagement at a farm level.It must not be forgotten that each application of   MicroLEIS  models does not necessarily reflect the land properties of thewhole natural region of Sevilla Province. Although typical soilswereselectedbecausetheyoccupylargeproportionsofthenaturalregions,inclusionsofsoilssignificantlydifferentineachregioncanbe recognized. Therefore, the results of this benchmark site analy-sis of soil use and management must not be extrapolated to largegeographical areas without additional spatialization studies. Land use planning  Soil or land use planning, relating major land use to soil capa-bility and soil suitability for each particular site, is considered thefirst objective in achieving environmental sustainability. Any kindof agricultural management system will have a negative environ-mental impact when applied on land with very low suitabilityfor agricultural uses. In the Mediterranean region, for example,marginal agricultural land under any kind of farming system is theideal scenario for soil erosion.  Arable land surfaces Results of applying  Terraza  (bioclimatic deficiency) model and Cervatana  (land capability) model in the selected nine benchmarksites are shown in Table 3. Seven application sites are classified as arable or best agricultural lands, and another two as marginal orunsuitable lands. The Vega site (SE09: Typic Xerofluvent soil) andthe Alcores site (SE01: Calcic Haploxeralf soil) present the high-est capability for most agricultural crops; in contrast, the SierraNortesite(SE06:Palexerultsoil)andtheSierraSursite(SE07:VerticXerorthentsoil)showthemost-unfavorableconditions.Thelengthof the growing period, the slope, and the soil depth are the majorlimitation factors in this agro-ecological zoning classification of Sevilla sites.Despite these land capability results, many similar areas clas-sified as marginal or unsuitable lands are currently dedicated toagricultural use. Some current land uses are entirely wrong withrespect to agro-ecological potentialities and limitations. Changesin land use from natural habitat to intensively tilled agriculturalcultivation are one of the primary reasons for soil degradation.Deforestation for agricultural needs and overgrazing have led tosevere erosion in the past. Usually, increasing agricultural landcapability correlates with a decrease in the soil erosion process.In summary, a positive correlation between current land use andpotential land capability would be necessary (De la Rosa and VanDiepen, 2002). Semi-natural habitats Resultsofapplying Sierra (forestrylandsuitability)modelinthetwobenchmarksitespreviouslyclassifiedasmarginalorunsuitablelands are shown in Table 4. This model identifies those Mediter- ranean forest communities that can be created on ex-agriculturalland, according to the tolerance ranges for standard soil and cli-mate variables of 61 forest species (22 trees and 39 shrubs). Forthe tree species, stone pine ( Pinus pinea ), swamp pine ( Pinus mar-itima ), and holm oak ( Quercus ilex ) are the most-viable forestspecies for restoration of semi-natural habitats in marginal areasof Sevilla. The maximum number of forest species was found forthe Sierra Norte site (SE06: Palexerult soil) that also includes red  Table 4 Forestry land suitability evaluation results from application of the  Sierra  qualitative/neural network model a to the marginal agricultural lands.Benchmark site Viable forest species Tree species SE06 Stone pine ( Pinus pinea ), maritime pine ( Pinus pinaster  ), holm oak ( Quercus ilex ), red eucalyptus ( Eucalyptus camaldulensis )SE07 Stone pine ( Pinus pinea ), maritime pine ( Pinus maritima ), holm oak ( Quercus ilex ) Shrub species SE06 Broom-like-kidney-vetch (  Anthyllis cytisoides ), dentate lavander ( Lavandula dentata ), dwarf fan palm ( Chamaerops humilis ), gorse ( Ulex parviflorus ), kermes oak ( Quercus coccifera ), lygos ( Retama sphaerocarpa ), rock rose ( Cistus albidus ), rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis ), smallbuckthorn ( Rhamnus lycioides )SE07 Gorse ( Ulex parviflorus ), hawthorn ( Crataegus monogyna ), phillyrea ( Phillyrea angustifolia ), prickly juniper (  Juniperus oxycedrus ),rosemary-leaved rockrose ( Cistus clusii ), sloe ( Prunus spinosa ), strawberry tree (  Arbutus unedo ) a Development, inputs and validity of this model are described in De la Rosa et al. (1992) and Heredia (2006).
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