Eco-practice detail

  1. Precision agriculture (PA) is a farming management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter- and intra-field variability in crops. PA is also sometimes referred to as precision farming. Precision agriculture uses information technology (IT) to ensure that crops and soil receive exactly what they need for optimum health and productivity.

  2. Nutrient management plans (NMPs) are used to help farmers efficiently meet their production objectives and protect the environment. Plans provide balanced recommendations for farmers on which nutrient sources to apply and what rates they should be applied at. Use of innovative approaches to minimise nutrient release, optimal pH for nutrient uptake, circular agriculture.

  3. Extensive livestock farming makes use of areas of permanent grassland, and is at the origin of many environmental services, based on the functioning of agro-ecosystems and the functional management of semi-natural vegetation. If insects are to be considered as a key indicator of overall biological richness, their presence in an open landscape can be explained fundamentally by two key factors: the absence of pesticide use, which destroys them directly, and a floristic richness spread over time.

  4. Permanent grassland is land used permanently (for several consecutive years, normally 5 years or more) to grow herbaceous fodder, forage or energy-purpose crops, through cultivation (sown) or naturally (self-seeded), and which is not included in the crop rotation on the holding. The grassland can be used for grazing, mown for silage and hay or used for renewable energy production. Grassland must have fodder interest, i.e., they include vegetal species of fodder interest.

  5. Appropriate management of farming residues involves making use of the crops and animal products left over after harvest or slaughter. Strategies for managing these residues may include composting, burning, mulching or using them as animal feed. Proper management of these residues is important to ensure that the land is properly managed, soil fertility is maintained, and the environment is protected from pollution. e.g., seeding on residues.

  6. Paludiculture is the productive land use of wet and rewetted peatlands that preserves the peat soil and thereby minimizes CO2 emissions and subsidence. Rewetting wetlands/peatlands, also known as paludiculture, is the practice of restoring and managing wetlands and peatlands in order to provide economic and ecological benefits. This involves rewetting peatlands that have been drained for agriculture, forestry, or other uses. By restoring the hydrological balance, the wetland can provide habitats for interesting plants and animals, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create additional sources of income from renewable energy, forestry, and cranberry production.

  7. Nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous are essential for crop production. This is an agricultural practice in which farmers reduce or eliminate the use of synthetic fertilisers on their arable crops. This practice helps to conserve natural resources and reduce pollution, as it reduces the amount of artificial chemicals and pollutants that are released into the environment. It also has the potential to increase the sustainability of agriculture, as it reduces the cost of inputs and increases the profitability of farming. Additionally, this practice can help conserve soil fertility, improve crop yields, and improve the health of the soil.

  8. Semi-natural habitats are integral to most agricultural areas and have the potential to support ecosystem services, especially biological control and pollination by supplying resources for the invertebrates providing these services and for soil conservation by preventing erosion and run-off.

  9. Shepherding is a traditional agricultural practice involving the movement of grazing livestock between certain areas depending on the season. Specifically, this refers to open spaces, and between permanent crops, as well as transhumance and common grazing land. Transhumance is a seasonal movement of grazing animals between lowland and highland pastures with different climates, while common grazing land allows farmers to share a common area for grazing their livestock.

  10. Fallow land is all arable land either included in the crop rotation system or maintained in good agricultural and environmental condition (GAEC), whether worked or not, but which will not be harvested for the duration of a crop year. The essential characteristic of fallow land is that it is left to recover, normally for the whole of a crop year.

  11. This refers to an agricultural system in which trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are grown with grazed animals. This type of system is designed to maximize the biodiversity of an area, often by creating a synergistic relationship between the plants and animals that provide a variety of ecological services and resources. High-biodiversity silvopastoral systems aim to create a sustainable, productive, and diverse agricultural system for both humans and wildlife.  Silvopastoral systems combine trees and shrubs with forage grasses, boost animal nutrition, and produce co-benefits such as improved soil productivity and increased carbon sequestration.

  12. This is a plan to maintain and manage the various components of a farm's landscape. It involves determining which parts of the farm should be cut or trimmed, as well as what should be kept as it is. It also includes deciding when and how to prune, mow, and fertilize the landscape components in order to keep them healthy and looking their best. It refers to the management of hedges, vegetation strips and other landscape elements at a territory scale.

  13. Planting landscape elements in farming refers to the practice of strategically planting vegetation and trees on or around agricultural land to provide a variety of benefits. These elements can include trees and shrubs that can help to provide windbreaks, shade, and provide natural habitat for wildlife. Additionally, planting landscape elements can help reduce soil erosion, help protect soil and water resources, and provide a more efficient use of land.

  14. Livestock shall have permanent access to open air areas that allow the animals to exercise, preferably pasture, whenever weather and seasonal conditions and the state of the ground allow.

  15. This refers to the practice of allowing livestock to graze in open fields during certain times of the year. It is a form of pasture management that helps to ensure the health of the animals and the health of the land.

  16. Animal health prevention and control plans are strategies created to protect the health of animals and prevent the spread of diseases. These plans can include vaccinations, quarantines, inspections, and biosecurity protocols to prevent infectious agents from entering animal populations. They can also include routine health checks, parasite control, nutrition plans, and other strategies to ensure optimal health for the animals.

  17. Selective breeding can help increase robustness, fertility, longevity and adaptability in animals. This can be done by selecting animals that are genetically predisposed to having good health and traits that are desirable for the particular species.

  18. An enriched environment for livestock is a living space that provides animals with extra stimulation or resources to enrich their environment, such as access to fresh grass, hay, or natural sunlight. This type of environment is designed to promote better health, well-being, and overall quality of life for the animals by giving them more space to roam, access to natural resources, and opportunities for socialization (e.g. rooting for pigs, perching, nest-building materials, etc.)

  19. Reduced stocking density for livestock is a management practice that involves reducing the number of animals that are kept in a given area. This can help to prevent overgrazing and improve the health of the soil, vegetation, and animals. It can also help to conserve resources and reduce environmental impact.

  20. Friendly housing conditions for livestock refers to the necessary elements to safely and humanely housing and care for animals on farms, such as providing adequate living space, access to clean food and water, and protection from the elements. This would include making sure the animals have adequate shelter, are not overcrowded, and have proper ventilation. Additionally, friendly housing conditions for livestock would include access to medical care and vaccination, as well as making sure the animals are not subjected to inhumane treatment. Friendlxx housing conditions include for example improved flooring (e.g. straw bedding provided on a daily basis), free farrowing, shading/sprinklers/ventilation to cope with heat stress.

  21. Biostimulants are preparations containig active substances and / or microoorganisms which directly activate and regulate the functioning of the rhizosphere and improve the methabolic processes of plants.

  22. This process involves tilling the soil to incorporate green manure and cover crops into the soil. Green manure and cover crops are used to improve the fertility and structure of soil, and by tilling the soil, the nutrients and organic matter from the green manure and cover crops are released into the soil, providing the soil with the necessary nutrients and organic matter that it needs.

  23. Flowering strips on arable land is a form of land management where strips of flowering plants are planted alongside or within crop fields. These strips help to promote biodiversity, protect pollinators, and provide habitat and food sources for beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife. They also create an attractive visual display and help to control soil erosion.

  24. Leaving peripheral areas unmown on permanent grassland is a beneficial conservation practice that can help to protect wildlife and biodiversity in the area. This practice encourages plant diversity, as it allows grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, and other vegetation to grow in the uncut peripheral areas. These plants provide food and shelter for animals and can also help to stabilize soil and reduce runoff. In addition, the uncut peripheral areas act as a visual buffer, helping to protect the area from human disturbances. This practice can help to improve the health of the grassland and the surrounding environment, providing a richer habitat for wildlife.

  25. Rotational grazingRotational grazing is a type of agricultural technique in which fields are divided into smaller sections, and animals are rotated through the sections on a regular basis. This technique is used to maintain the quality of the soil and vegetation in the field and to reduce the risk of overgrazing. Rotational grazing can also be used to help manage the spread of diseases and parasites in the animal populations.

    The approach often produces lower outputs than more intensive animal farming operations, but requires lower inputs, and therefore sometimes produces higher net farm income per animal.

  26. Strip cropping is a method of farming that involves the alternation of close strip crops such as cotton, corn, sugar beets, soybeans, etc with small grains such as millet, wheat, or hay. It is usually employed on sloppy land and also where this method remains the only available solution to prevent erosion.

  27. Agroforestry systems involve the intentional combination of agricultural activities and forestry practices in the same area. This type of land management is designed to increase the productivity of the land while sustaining natural resources and the environment. Agroforestry systems typically involve a mix of trees, shrubs, and crops that can provide a range of food, fuel, and other materials. Other benefits include soil conservation, improved water infiltration, and better pest control.

  28. Reducing chemical-synthetic pesticides in agriculture is a form of pest control that seeks to reduce or eliminate the use of synthetic chemical pesticides in favor of more sustainable methods. This can include using natural pest predators, crop rotation, and other alternatives to chemical-based pesticides. These methods are often more environmentally-friendly and can lead to a reduction in the amount of residues in the environment.

  29. On-farm, this can include creating corridors or strips of habitat that connect existing patches of semi-natural habitat. This can involve planting native vegetation, creating or restoring ponds and wetland areas, or creating buffer zones around existing patches of semi-natural habitat to reduce the impact of activities such as agricultural production. Beyond a farm area, semi-natural habitats can be interconnected by creating or restoring greenways or green corridors. These corridors can help to link existing habitats, allowing for the dispersal of species between them and providing alternative routes for species to reach suitable habitats. This can include planting native vegetation along roadsides and other linear habitats, planting hedgerows, and creating wildlife crossings.

  30. Alternating management between permanent crop rows is a farming technique in which different crop rows are managed in a variety of ways, such as planting different types of crops, using different fertilizers, and varying irrigation levels. This technique helps to maximize the productivity of each row by taking advantage of the different conditions of the soil and climate.

  31. Mosaic mowing is a type of grassland management technique that involves cutting the grass into a pattern of alternating strips (i.e. mowing at different times on different areas). The strips are cut at different heights, allowing a diverse range of grasses, wildflowers, and other plants to grow. The technique helps to create a mosaic of different vegetation types, providing habitat for a variety of wildlife. It also helps to reduce soil erosion and improve soil fertility.

  32. Graduated cultivation of permanent grassland is a method of managing permanent grassland to promote biodiversity and maintain healthy ecosystems. It involves cutting and grazing the grasses in a cyclical pattern that gradually changes the height of the grasses and creates a patchwork of different heights. This method helps to increase the number of species of plants, insects, and animals in the grassland. It also helps to maintain soil fertility and reduce the risk of soil erosion.

  33. Actinobacteria have plant growth promoting and biocontroll effects. Inoculation with Actinobacteria can result in reduction of use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

  34. Using Nitrogen -fixing bacteria for reduction of chemical N fertilizers. Soil inoculation with Nitrogen-fixing bacteria is a process where beneficial bacteria are added to the soil to help it absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it into a form that plants can use. This process helps improve the fertility of the soil and can be beneficial for long-term crop production. The bacteria can also help to improve the soil structure and water-holding capacity, as well as reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.

  35. If soil is depleted during crop production or in case of stress conditions (biotic and abiotic) biostimulants can be used on plant foliage. For example the nettle juice extract contains plant nutirents, hormones and have plant protection effect, furthermore it can improve the taste and of tomato fruits.

  36. Siderophore producing bacteria help iron uptake of plants, they have antagonistic effect to pathogen bacteria.

  37. Micorrhyza fungi have postitive effect on phosphorous and microelement uptake, furthermore they have positive effect on plant protection. Under certain conditions application of micorrhyza fungi can result in reduction of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

  38. Fertilizer must be applied evenly, taking various aspects into account, in doses suitable for the cultivated plant and the conditions of the growing site.

  39. Inadequate microbiological conditions of soil can be enhanced with microbial inoculants. Reducing the use of chemical fertilizers by using commercial microbial soil inoculants. Some beneficial microbes have positive effect in plant nutrition and on soil structure. For example: a, Microbes capable of biological nitrogen fixation b, microbes able to dissolve and mobilize phosphorous c, microbes able to break down organic matter.

  40. Microbial plant biostimulants are a type of organic fertilizer that contain beneficial microorganisms that can help promote healthy plant growth and protect plants from pests and diseases. These microorganisms can be applied to the soil or directly to the plant, and can help improve soil fertility, increase plant vigor, and reduce disease incidence. They can also help improve crop yield by increasing the availability of nutrients and water in the soil, and helping plants to better tolerate stress. Reduction the use of pesticides by using commercially available biostimulant microbes. Some microbes have positive effect in plant protection, as they have biocontrol properties.

  41. The direct introduction of pollutants (including ammonia and substances with an adverse effect on the oxygen balance) into groundwater is prohibited.

  42. Tilling and sowing across the slope is a farming technique in which a farmer tills and sows crops across a sloped area. This technique involves digging furrows or trenches across the slope, planting seeds or seedlings in the furrows. This technique helps to prevent soil erosion and stabilizes the soil.

  43. Mulch tillage is tillage system in which residue is partially incorporated using chisels, sweeps, field cultivators, providing fine tilth and soil cutting, with 30% of plant residues on surface.

  44. Due to the risk of water pollution. Where fertilization is necessary, edge zones should be used so that fertilizers do not pollute the threatened area.

  45. Introducing intercrops for green manure into the crop rotation to preserve soil organic matter, prevent soil erosion and reduce nitrate leaching.

  46. Crop residues are the stalks, leaves, chaff and husks that remain on the fields after the grain, seeds or fibers have been harvested. Harvest residues should not be burned, but should be incorporated into the soil, as this increases the content of organic matter and the biological activity of the soil.

  47. Organic fertilisers are natural fertilisers that are derived from plant and animal sources. Examples of organic fertilisers include compost, manure, bone meal, and seaweed. They provide essential nutrients to plants, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. They help improve soil structure, increase microbial activity, and reduce soil erosion. Organic fertilisers can also improve soil fertility and help plants absorb water and nutrients more effectively.

  48. This describes a system of providing the necessary nutrients to field crops in order to achieve optimum health and growth. This could involve organic fertilizers, soil amendments, or other soil enrichment products. The goal is to maintain a balanced nutrient supply to the crops that is enough to optimize their health and production.

  49. Use of only superficial tillage without soil inversion. Reduced tillage is every type of cultivation without inverting soil and when 30 % of its surface is covered with crop residue.

  50. Planting of crops directly (no tillage) in preceeding cover crop (living or destroyed, i.e. mulched) or crop residues

  51. Manure management is a continuum from generation by livestock to storage and treatment and finally to land spreading. Tanks for storage of manure are built primarily to prevent pollution of underground and surface water and to preserve the nutrient value of manure. Tanks must be impermeable, prevent spilling, washing or runoff of manure into the environment.

  52. Feed additives can inhibit microorganisms that produce methane in the rumen of cattle. The additives can be natural feed supplements like garlic, or plants like kelp.

  53. Terracing is an agricultural practice that suggests rearranging farmlands or turning hills into farmlands by constructing specific ridged platforms. These platforms are called terraces.

  54. Windbreaks are linear plantings of trees and shrubs designed to provide economic, environmental and community benefits. The primary purpose of most windbreaks is to slow the wind which creates a more beneficial condition for soils, crops, livestock, wildlife and people.

  55. Erosion prevention strips (Contour buffer strips) are strips of grass or a mixture of grasses and legumes that run along the contour of a farmed field. They alternate down the slope of a field with wider cropped strips.

  56. Crop water requirements (CWR) are defined as the depth of water [mm] needed to meet the water consumed through evapotranspiration (ETc) by a disease-free crop, growing in large fields under non-restricting soil conditions including soil water and fertility, and achieving full production potential under the given growing environment. Switching to less water intensive crops, changing planting dates, optimised irrigation schedules. Managing crop water demand is the practice of balancing the amount of water needed to support healthy crop growth with the available supply of water. This involves assessing the current and future water needs of the crops, making adjustments to the amount of water applied, and monitoring the results of water changes over time. It is an important aspect of sustainable agriculture, as it allows for efficient use of limited water resources, as well as ensuring that crops receive the proper amount of nutrients and hydration needed for growth.

  57. Irrigation is used to supplement water during dry periods, increase productivity of coarse soils (sandy), improve the crop quality of water-sensitive crops and reduce risk of crop loss (e.g. drip irrigation). Improving irrigation efficiency is a way of making sure that less water is wasted when watering plants and crops. This can be achieved through better water management techniques and technology, such as the use of sprinklers, drip tubing, and other water-saving devices. This can help conserve water resources, reduce water bills, and improve crop yields.

  58. Friendly housing conditions for livestock refers to the necessary elements to safely and humanely housing and care for animals on farms, such as providing adequate living space, access to clean food and water, and protection from the elements. This would include making sure the animals have adequate shelter, are not overcrowded, and have proper ventilation. Additionally, friendly housing conditions for livestock would include access to medical care and vaccination, as well as making sure the animals are not subjected to inhumane treatment. Friendlxx housing conditions include for example improved flooring (e.g. straw bedding provided on a daily basis), free farrowing, shading/sprinklers/ventilation to cope with heat stress.

  59. The Feed Management Plan  is intended to assist the producer with documentation of those practices that affect animal welfare. Providing animals with a balanced and species appropriate diet of nutrients is essential for their overall health and well-being. This includes providing them with adequate amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. 

  60. Organic farming rules are a set of practices and standards that promote the sustainability and health of agricultural systems. These rules aim to minimize the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals, while maximizing the use of natural resources and methods to produce safe, healthy food. Organic farming also focuses on soil health, water conservation, and animal welfare.

  61. Plant species richness in permanent grassland. Increasing plant diversity can increase ecosystem functioning, stability and services in permanent grassland. Multi-species swards (also referred to as species-rich or diverse grasslands) are grassland communities comprising grass, legume and herb species. This increased diversity means a wide variety of plant forms are represented, which can increase biomass production and produce a forage material comprised of a variety of components, including some with medicinal qualities.

  62. Rational grazing intensity can provide a sustainable way to maintain soil fertility, C sequestration, efficient nutrient recycling, and overall ecosystem stability and adopting the correct grazing time (warm-season grazing) is critical for species diversity conservation and nutrient sequestration within the topsoil

  63. Soil cover conserves moisture, reduces temperature, intercepts raindrops (to reduce their destructive impact), suppresses weed growth, and provides habitat for members of the soil food web that spend at least some of their time above ground. This is true regardless of land use (cropland, hayland, pasture, or range). Keeping the soil covered while allowing crop residues to decompose (so their nutrients can be cycled back into the soil) can be a bit of a balancing act.

  64. A cover crop is defined as a close-growing crop that provides soil protection, seeding protection, and soil improvement between periods of normal crop production. 

  65. Relay intercropping describes a cropping pattern in which the lifecycle of one crop overlaps that of another crop. Relay intercropping is a form of crop rotation where two or more crops are grown together in the same area. This system of planting allows for the use of space more efficiently and encourages the growth of beneficial plants that can improve soil fertility and reduce weed growth. The plants are planted in successive waves, with different crops planted in each wave. This method of planting can also help to increase the diversity of crops grown in an area and reduce pest and disease pressures.

  66. Intercropping means growing two or more crops at the same (or overlapping) time and same area. Also namend mixed cropping or multi cropping

  67. Crop rotation is the practice of planting different crops sequentially on the same plot of land to improve soil health, optimize nutrients in the soil, and combat pest and weed pressure.

  68. Fallow land is all arable land either included in the crop rotation system or maintained in good agricultural and environmental condition (GAEC), whether worked or not, but which will not be harvested for the duration of a crop year. The essential characteristic of fallow land is that it is left to recover, normally for the whole of a crop year. 

  69. Crop choice is the process of choosing which crops to grow in a particular area. This can be based on a variety of factors, including soil type, climate, water availability, market demand, and the farmer’s personal preferences. It is a critical decision for farmers, as it can significantly impact their success and profitability. Increased use of resilient, pest resitant crop varieties and species. Use of resistant crops to biotic and abiotic stresses (and mixing them) or crops with selected traits that enhance rhizosphere activities (e.g. mycorrhiza, plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria). Use of crops/plant varieties more resilient to climate change

  70. Biological control (or ‘biocontrol’) is the use of living organisms and naturally-sourced (or nature-identical) compounds to control pest and disease populations.
    extracts; 

  71. Mechanical weed control is the process of removing weeds from soil or other areas using physical means such as hand-weeding, hoeing, tilling, mulching, burning, pulling and cutting. It is a form of weed management that relies on physical manipulation of the environment to control the growth of weeds. 

  72. Vegetative buffers and filter strips are areas of permanent vegetation located within and between agricultural fields and the water courses to which they drain (Helmers et al., 2006). These buffers are intended to intercept and slow runoff, thereby providing water quality benefits. 

  73. Earthworms are one of the most important organisms in soil that play an important role in maintaining natural soil processes. Excessive amounts of slurry, which contains a high proportion of nitrogen in the form of ammonia, such as ammonium sulfate and some manures, can reduce the number of earthworms in the soil. Harmful effects on earthworms can be reduced by avoiding the application of slurry on wet and poorly permeable soil.

  74. Green manure is a type of crop that is grown to improve the fertility of soil. It is usually a type of legume, such as alfalfa, clover, or vetch, which is planted, allowed to grow, and then plowed back into the soil, adding organic matter and nutrients. Green manure helps to improve soil structure, suppress weeds, reduce erosion, and improve water retention. Legumes are a type of plant that are able to take nitrogen from the atmosphere and fix it in the soil. This means that they can be used to supply nitrogen to other crops, helping to improve soil fertility and increase crop yields. 

  75. Beneficial biocontrol organisms are living creatures that are used to help control pests and disease in an eco-friendly and natural way. These organisms can include predators, parasites, and other beneficial insects that consume or attack pests, or fungi and bacteria that are used to control plant diseases. Biocontrol organisms can be used to help reduce the use of chemical pesticides and can provide a more sustainable way to manage pests and disease. Control of pests based on introduction of natural enemies or pheromones

  76. Pest monitoring in farming is the practice of regularly checking crops and soil for signs of insect pests and other diseases. This helps farmers identify potential problems before they become severe, allowing them to take preventative measures to protect their crops. Pest monitoring can involve checking for physical signs of pests, such as egg masses or feces, or using traps and other detection tools.Pest monitoring in farming is the practice of regularly checking crops and soil for signs of insect pests and other diseases. This helps farmers identify potential problems before they become severe, allowing them to take preventative measures to protect their crops. Pest monitoring can involve checking for physical signs of pests, such as egg masses or feces, or using traps and other detection tools.

  77. This practice refers to planting a certain number of plants in a given area in order to optimize the growth of the plants and the yield of a crop. It is important to use appropriate planting densities as too few or too many plants can lead to overcrowding or competition for resources.

  78. Beneficial biocontrol organisms are living creatures that are used to help control pests and disease in an eco-friendly and natural way. These organisms can include predators, parasites, and other beneficial insects that consume or attack pests, or fungi and bacteria that are used to control plant diseases. Biocontrol organisms can be used to help reduce the use of chemical pesticides and can provide a more sustainable way to manage pests and disease. Control of pests based on introduction of natural enemies or pheromones

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