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Investigations on practical farms

In dialogue with the farmers, we identify potential areas of soil compaction and the possible causes for this. Appropriate methods are used to record indicators that describe the effects on the soil and the consequences for the yield.

In an "on-farm" investigation, potentially compacted and with regard to the site conditions, comparable, potentially uncompacted (control) areas or partial plots are identified during an on-site inspection together with the farmer. These areas are examined for soil physical parameters in order to detect possible soil compaction or differences in soil condition. On the same areas a manual harvest is carried out to record any differences in yield and to investigate a possible correlation with soil condition. In addition, a flight with an UAV is carried out to identify possible differences between the control areas and the compacted areas. At the same time, a guideline-based interview with the farmers on the history of cultivation and on the possibilities and limits of soil protection in their daily work is conducted.

First of all, we developed a concept that includes suitable parameters for transdisciplinary evaluation, their recording methods, and the integration of different disciplines. For this purpose, we derived indicators from the results of the socio-economic and scientific work carried out so far (see figure below).

Indicators are among others:

  • soil physical properties
  • driving intensity
  • crop rotations
  • costs / effort
  • possible benefits of technical and management options
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