14th EMS Annual Meeting & 10th European Conference on Applied Climatology (ECAC)
EUPORIAS is a project funded by the European Commission under the 7th framework programme, aiming to improve the ability to maximize the societal benefit of the new technologies for predicting future environmental conditions. Working in close partnership with a number of European stakeholders, EUPORIAS aims to develop a set of fully working prototypes of climate services addressing the need of specific users. The time horizon is set between a month and a year ahead with the aim of extending it towards the more challenging decadal scale.
We present our approach for one of the project prototypes, a land management tool which we are developing in partnership with Clinton Devon Estates (CDE). CDE is a major regional land owner in the South West UK, with responsibility for 25,000 acres of land. Its areas of business cover farming, sustainable forestry, conservation management, deer management, commercial and residential property and businesses including the region’s premier equestrian venue. CDE’s decision making depends critically onland and weather conditions, covering timescales from hours to decades.
Our aim is to develop a specific working tool for one land management application (decision) which can later be extended to other uses, while also serving as a blueprint for a weather-decision making tool for land managers and farmers in general. The specific decision is cover crop planting. A cover crop is a crop planted primarily to manage soil fertility, carbon storage, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases, biodiversity and wildlife. Advance knowledge of a very wet winter would enable the farm manager to choose an appropriate summer/autumn sown cover crop which will protect soils that would otherwise be left bare and susceptible to run-off and erosion.
The farm is in a Water Framework Directive (WFD) valley catchment. This will also strongly relate to Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) regulations, cross compliance for Single Farm Payment (SFP) in terms of Soil Protection Review, both of which look at runoff appropriate cultivations and timings of such as well as the application of fertilizers.
The tool will be developed through a close working relationship with a set of representative land managers. We will use farm records of previous land management decisions and observed and forecast seasonal weather data from the past to assess how the tool might have been used retrospectively. The land management tool will combine visualization of spatial databases of land related information (e.g. soil, land use, slope, geology) with seasonal forecasts, enabling land managers to make more informed decisions.