In 2022 our project partners were really able to kick on with the vegetation monitoring across the farmer clusters. More extensive monitoring was possible this year on meadows and farms across Europe, with developments also being made in the use of technology such as the iNaturalist app and Edaphologs for soil sampling. Take a look at some of the monitoring and technological advancements that took place in 2022 in this blog.
Beginning in Austria, during the end of May and the beginning of June the first vegetation monitoring session was conducted on every farm, led by AREC. For that purpose, a monitoring plot of 20 X 2, 5 m was used.
Left: Daniela Ablinger (AREC) during vegetation monitoring with Melanargia galathea. Right: Vegetation Monitoring plot with 20 m in length.
The second vegetation monitoring session was conducted on each of the 12 Cluster farms and the 4 Reference farms from the end of July to the end of August. For that purpose, a GPS device, and the monitoring plot of 20 X 2, 5m were used. The Farmer of the Mostviertel Cluster are very interested in the monitoring work that is conducted on their meadows. Therefore, in several cases the farmers accompanied AREC while doing the monitoring to discuss common agricultural topics and questions, as shown below. The difficulty was to reach the meadows when they were not currently mown or pastured. Every farm has its own management style, when it comes to greenfodder, silage and hay production and for that reason every meadow on every farm reaches a different harvest time.
As for BOKU’s work, the first vegetation survey was carried out by Aliyeh Salehi between 12th -17th May 2022 (see photo below). After BHCs and pollinator transects were selected, vegetation plots (2.5 x 20 m) were co-located with each of the bee and butterfly transects at fixed locations within the survey squares. The start and end points of each 20m section were delimited by fixed landmarks (e.g., individual trees, hedges, and fences). The geographic coordinates of the start and end point of all 20m sections were recorded. Once the vegetation plots were determined, vegetation surveys were conducted by walking along the plots.
The second vegetation survey was carried out between 8th -10th August 2022. Similar to the vegetation survey in May, after BHCs and pollinator transects were selected, vegetation plots (2.5 x 20 m) were co-located with each of the bee and butterfly transects at fixed locations within the survey squares. The start and end points of each 20m section were delimited by fixed landmarks (e.g., individual trees, hedges, and fences). Once the vegetation plots were determined, vegetation surveys were conducted by walking along the plots.
Returning to new technology, this year EMU has been testing the edaphology system using soil from cluster fields with different management. As part of this, the Czech FC was invited by the James Hutton Institute to collaborate on the testing of the Edapholog soil sensor system from Syngenta developed to monitor soil mesofauna. The Farmer Cluster is interested in participating in this additional monitoring. The Edaphologs were installed in 2022 but not yet used. The first use is planned for spring testing 2023.
Finally, in the French cluster, at least one apple orchard per farm has been chosen by each farmer to conduct agrobiodiversity monitoring. A total of sixteen 500m-transects have been selected for the scientific monitoring in 2022. Table 2 describes the monitoring conducted in both the apple orchards and the scientific transects. Three additional transects were defined in January for the 2022 campaign in order to support evaluation of biodiversity changes with the instalment of boxes for birds and bats.
Focussing on the vegetation aspect of this monitoring, one volunteer hired by CA13 conducted biodiversity monitoring in apple orchards half from three different farmers involved in the farmer cluster (OAB protocol from April to August). Further, three farmers from the cluster had sowed a mixture of mustard, lotus and dandelion to flower next spring at the apple flower bloom in November.
We are delighted that these flowered meadows will constitute part of the exciting experiments Estelle Bridoux will conduct during her PhD thesis in the farmer cluster (2022-2024).