Monthly Archives: September 2016

Climate CAFE presence in ESA14 congress: “Growing landscapes – cultivating innovative agricultural systems”

The 14th Congress of the European Society of Agronomy (ESA14) was held in Edinburgh during 5-9 September 2016.

There were a total of 14 different parallel sessions and 7 different options for a field trip during the congress.

Climate CAFE project sponsored one of the parallel sessions titled: “Adaptation to Climate Change” and the project was also represented by two key oral presentations and four poster presentations related to the project.

The first oral presentation was given by Moritz Reckling from ZALF (Germany) titled “Novel approaches to optimize grain legume cropping systems”. Reckling et al. showed the use of the ROTOR model as a tool for estimating the effect of integrating legumes in rotations. ROTOR is one of the key farm level tools that we are using in Climate CAFE, and can be downloaded from the ZALF website along with several other tools for organic agriculture:

The second oral presentation from our team was given by Helena Gómez-Macpherson from CSIC (Spain) titled “Participatory approach for identifying/ prioritizing adaptation strategies to climate change”. The presentation showed the methods that we are using in the Climate CAFE workshops organized in each of the adaptation pilots that are located across Europe.

In addition there were also four poster presentations from the Climate CAFE team:

– “Nitrogen Dynamics in Organic Rotation” by Kairsty Topp from SRUC (UK).

– “Performance of cover crops and effect on the following crop in a long term tillage experiment” by Lucie Büchi et al. from Agroscope (Switzerland).

– “Differences in Nitrous oxide emissions among faba bean (Vicia faba L.) cultivars in a boreal climate” by Clara Lizarazo et al. from University of Helsinki (Finland).

– “Exploring rye-soybean double cropping systems as a climate change adaptation strategy” Ralf Bloch et al. from ZALF (Germany).

As 2016 is the International Year of Pulses the Congress highlighted the role of legumes – both pasture and grain legumes (pulses) the importance of legumes is becoming more and more evident thanks to their role for sustainable local vegetable protein production. Charles Cernay from INRA (France) explained that we should promote other legume crops with higher productivity than pea, such as soybean, narrow leafed lupin and faba bean if we want to make a difference to protein production in European agriculture. While Derrick Moot from Lincoln University (New Zealand) showed how legumes such as lucerne and clover can help to create drought-proofed landscapes, which is of great importance under the current climate change.

Another important topic during the ESA14 congress was the role of modelling tools for the design of sustainable agricultural systems and to understand how crop production will be affected by the extreme weather events that may occur as a consequence of climate change. D. Dumont from Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech (Belgium) advised that models need to be run in sequential mode to account for any carry-over effects and S. Asseng from The University of Florida (USA) suggested a multi-model ensemble was important to achieve best predictors across environments under climate change. Accordingly, The Climate CAFE project is making use of a wide set of models that include: STICS, RECORD, FarmDESIGN, DAYCENT and MODAM.

Other current key issues for European Agriculture were featured in the presentations of M. Rufino from Lancaster University (UK) and Paolo Barberi from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Italy). M. Rufino questioned how practices at farm level may cause land use change and their role in climate change mitigation. In addition, Paolo Barberi highlighted the increase of agricultural land abandonment in Europe, and the need for more diversity at all levels to increase the sustainability of agriculture and food systems.

Along with the scientific talks, there was also time for field trips to get acquainted with Scottish farming systems and see what techniques farmers are currently using to achieve sustainable farming. For example, Colin Hunter farmer at Stonelaws showed his interest in Conservation Agriculture, and how the use of cover crops and reduced tillage have helped him to improve the soil structure on his farm.


On the fourth day of the congress there were 7 different field trips. Here are some images from the inspiring visit to Stonelaws farm where we got insight from the farmer Colin Samuel and a seed merchant, about conservation agriculture using techniques such as minimum tillage and a variety of cover crops.

Last, but not least, since the congress was held in Scotland and coincided with Scottish food and drink fortnight, which “promotes Scotland’s produce and the people who grow, make, cook and sell it”; all the participants at ESA14 had the chance to get a taste and learn more about Scottish traditional produce such as salmon, haggis, and whisky. Bill Thomas from The James Hutton Institute gave an entertaining talk about growing barley for whisky and then a whisky tasting showcasing 9 different whiskies.


The third day of #ESA14 congress was a busy day discussing #modelling tools and novel management approaches to deal with the effects of #climatechange on cropping systems.
As reward we finished the day by learning about whisky production and also had some whisky tasting thanks to 
The James Hutton Institute


The productive ESA14 Congress was closed with an amazing dinner at The National Museum of Scotland. Excellent Scottish food and bagpipe band!