HORTA Open field days report

During 2018, 13 open field days, including DEMOdays and farm visits, were organized by Horta at its experimental site, Ca’ Bosco farm in Ravenna (Italy). About 350 people in total, including farmers, consultants, students and researchers, visited the experimental trials hosted at the farm. During the open field days the experimental trials implemented for the IWMPRAISE project were shown and illustrated. They are focused on durum wheat and legumes relay intercrop, aiming at the identification of the most suitable legume species and the evaluation of the effect on weed control and durum wheat production.
At the beginning of each visit, the experimental trials were presented to the participants at a meeting room and then the they were visited in field.

Presentation of the experimental trials

Field visit

The open field days were held along the growing cycle of both legume cover crop species and durum wheat, so that visitors could observe the crops in different phenological stages.

IWMPRAISE experimental trial

Durum wheat/legume relay intercropping

The same plot in advanced phonological stage

During the open field days participants showed interest in the experimental trials, asking for a further visit in September to see the development of the legume cover crop after summer. In this field visit, the different development of the various legume species and their effect on weed control could be appreciated.

A well developed cover crop and the untreated plot in September

Among the positive aspects of the durum wheat and legumes relay intercropping, it was highlighted that cover crops reduce the presence of weeds, improve soil fertility, prevent soil erosion and improve organic matter if they are ploughed under and incorporated into the soil. The relay intercropping with alfalfa can anticipate the first mowing compared to a traditional rotation. The choice of legume species and varieties is considered fundamental, as the most vigorous species should be avoided, as well as species that cannot withstand being overshadowed by wheat. The choice of wheat variety is also important, as varieties prone to lodging should be avoided. Other critical issues are related to the cover crop sowing, which should be done in the most appropriate period and should be as uniform as possible.