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Soil Hydrology research platform underpinning innovation to manage water scarcity in European and Chinese cropping systems. (SHui)

SHui is conceived as a network integrating long-term experiments of its 19 academic and SME partners across different environmental conditions and cropping systems in the EU and China. It provides a platform for research on soil-water resources management under water scarce conditions, to better understand the linkages between agricultural soil hydrology and sustainability and for a systematic assessment of adaptation and mitigation methods.

It will develop and implement new strategies to increase water use efficiency and yield, based on sustainable intensification through integrated use of soil and water across different spatial scales. At farm level, this includes digital agriculture solutions integrating in situ and remote sensors and simulation models to exploit an improved understanding of the relationship between crop yield variability and soil hydraulic properties, optimizing circular approaches to re-use water and using waste water sources.

At regional scales, the aggregation of biophysical and socioeconomic variables in dynamic models will evaluate the impact of different policy strategies, to support decision makers to evaluate different scenarios of land-use dynamics, economic context and current and future climate in EU and China, including assessments of water and carbon footprint. Training a cohort of early career scientists in soil conservation and water-saving practices, SHui's legacy will extend beyond the project duration.


Universidad de Córdoba

- Benchmark existing, and emerging, cropping practices, in terms of crop yields, economic returns and key agro-ecosystem services.
- Identify "win-win" interventions over short- and long-term periods for both farmers and society in cooperation with different stakeholders, and to develop and disseminate best management strategies at different spatial and temporal scales.
- Determine the impacts of these interventions at larger scales on future crop yields and other agro-ecosystem services by testing two hypotheses aimed at sustainable intensification through optimum water use. Specifically:

a) In rainfed agriculture, increased resilience to severe droughts and extreme rainfalls events can be achieved by introducing new technologies that allow heterogeneous management of the landscape, by cooperation among different stakeholders and changing farmer attitudes to innovation.
b) In irrigated agriculture, optimal use of the limited available water (including rainfall and recycled water), can increase growers' net profits and receive support from society relative to current practices.


- To improve, calibrate and validate the AquaCrop model to: 1) simulate crop yield response to variable water supply in the different SHui environments; 2) integrate soil physical properties and soil fertility to more realistically simulate actual crop performance; 3) capture the impact of different management strategies on water limited productivity; and, 4) link with SHui hydrologic models to scale point simulations up to farm and regional analyses of crop responses to water scarcity.
- To develop a hybrid-type model to simulate yield responses of tree crops to variable water supply.
- Calibrating current generation of selected mathematical models at plot and field scale for soil-water interaction and processes, hydrological balance, soil degradation and water quality description.
- Performing large catchment analyses including crop yield scenarios using conceptual upscaling based on GIS platform. 5- Coordinating exploratory analyses of fully coupled hydrologic and crop models that link variability of soil properties (related to water availability) to yield at field scale.

D2.1 A calibrated AquaCrop model for Shui.
D2.2 A calibrated TreeWat model for Shui.
D2.3 Preliminary design of fully coupled hydrologic-crop growth model.
D2.4 Evaluation of the plot and small catchment scale environmental simulation models performance in various site specific conditions.
D2.5 Improved algorithms based on soil hydrology for its insertion in AquaCrop and TreeWat.
D2.6 Methods for upscaling AquaCrop and TreeWat for regional analysis and definition of areas for Priority Regional Analysis (PRA).

SHui needs to provide effective ways to improve soil and water use efficiency for different agricultural systems and regions across a very diverse area.
- Improved soil and water-use efficiency in agricultural production.
- Identification of tools, mainly at farm level, to improve soils' water-holding capacities and plant productivity in the presence of drought or flood risks. To be effective, the practices need to be conducted at farm level and then upscaled regionally.
- Identification of new and advanced sustainable technologies for soil-water management that will efficiently reduce crop-yield variability and the impact of extreme weather events on crops.
- Evaluation and study of water balances at watershed level and evaluation of crops' real ‘water footprint'.

Relaciones suelo-agua-planta

Code PAIDI: AGR-119

Elías Fereres Castiel. Partner. 

Universidad de Córdoba

Budget of Andalusian group: € 389,406.25

Keywords: Research platform, stakeholders, socieconomics, ecosystem services, sustainable intensification
Duration: 48 months. September, 1th 2018 to August, 31th 2022
Project cost: € 5,562,745.00