Open field day on IWMPRAISE experimental trials in Pisa, 19 June 2018

On 19th June 2018 more than 50 participants (farmers, advisors, technicians, researchers and students) visited the IWMPRAISE field trials at CiRAA (Interdepartmental Centre of Agro-Environmental Research “Enrico Avanzi”) in Pisa, Italy.

Introduction to the field day activities at CiRAA

The open day started with an overview of mechanical termination of cover crops with the “crimper roller” with adapted blades produced by Dondi. Videos were shown of the roller-crimper in action, working on three different cover crops: rye, vetch and rye mixed with vetch. The machine was tested with two different blades and three different tractor speeds. Afterwards, everyone went to the field and all participants could see and discuss the results of sorghum sown in the dead-mulch prepared with the DONDI “crimper roller” and talk to the DONDI engineering team. The use of this adapted “crimper roller” showed good results in killing the cover crop without the use of herbicide in this first year of testing. These are very promising results to base on next yeartrials for optimizing the use of this machine at large scale

The group looking at the dead-mulch resulting for the use of “roller crimper” by Dondi

Non chemical control of weeds was addressed during the visit to the long-term field experiment on horticulture crops. Here, the participants could experience what happens when you combine conservation agriculture practices (i.e. notill or strip tillage, permanent soil cover with living mulch) and organic farming in field vegetable production. Three different cropping systems based on the same 3-yr crop sequence (process tomato-chicory-melon-faba bean-fennel) with a decreasing level of soil disturbance was presented. The visit to the field was the occasion for discussing crop performances, economic viability, soil fertility and weed abundance and composition in the tested systems.

The group at the long-term field experiment on horticulture crops

At last participants moved to the IWMPRAISE experiment of durum wheat and legumes relay intercropping for discussing the positive aspects and challenges of intercropping at farm level, including the possibilities in organic farming. In the field, many different combination of legume-wheat intercropping are tested and it was decided to focus on the comparison between wheat relay intercropping with lentil and wheat relay intercopping with alfalfa as examples of cereals with annual and cereals with perennial legume intercrops. Participants were then challenged with the request to observe carefully 10 of the 30 intercrops present in the field and evaluate the intercrops in terms of legume species adaptation to the growth with wheat and suitability for use of such intercrops by local farmers.

Presentation of the durum wheat and legumes intercropping trial.

Evaluation of the durum wheat and legumes intercropping plots by the participants

The field day was a perfect occasion for introducing local farmers and advisors interested in integrated weed management to the IWMPRAISE initiative at CiRAA and for initiating the discussion about on farm trials in the next seasons to include in the project framework.