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Luxembourg National Research Fund

First project funded in joint FNR-Ministry of Agriculture Call

In June 2021, the FNR and the Luxembourg Ministry of Agriculture (MAVDR) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), announcing the launch of a joint Call on “Sustainable and resilient agriculture and food systems”. Following the Call for proposals, 1 of 8 projects has been retained for funding. The funded project aims to support farmers and policy makers through a smart-cropping management solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect soil carbon. 

The FNR and the Luxembourg Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development (MAVDR) joined forces to put forward a call for research proposals to support policy making and to help the decision-making process.  

This collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture and the FNR is a milestone that will enable the agricultural sector to move towards sustainable and resilient food systems while strengthening its position in the supply chain from farm to fork. This innovative approach is also part of the Ministry of Agriculture’s “Landwirtschaft+” approach for economic, social and ecological strengthening of the agricultural sector. 

The joint FNR-MAVDR call was launched to support applied multidisciplinary research on innovative resilient and sustainable farming practices and systems in three thematic research fields: 

  1. Adaptation of Luxemburg’s Agriculture to Climate Change
  2. Adaptation of Local Farming Practices to improve their Impact on Water Resources
  3. Adaptation of Local Farming Practices to improve their Impact on Biodiversity and Related Ecosystem Services in Agroecosystems

Cross-border collaborations were strongly encouraged in the Call, to allow high-level research consortia with complementary expertise to develop and exchange knowledge. 

The second joint Call is expected to be launched in July 2022. More information will be communicated at the launch of the Call. 

Funded project

Principal Investigator: Kate Buckeridge 

Institution: Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) 

Project partner: University of Aberdeen, UK 

Project title: Smart Cropping to Adapt Luxembourg Agriculture to Climate Change (ADAPT) 

Project duration: 48 months 

Project budget: 598,000 EUR 

Abstract

Crops are necessary to feed people. However, growing crops causes soil to lose carbon and emit greenhouse gases. These emissions contribute to climate change and climate extremes — such as drought — and reduce crop yields. The EU and the Luxembourg governments have set strict climate legislation that requires farmers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, farmers need methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their fields and make their crops resilient to climate extremes. Policy makers need better accounting of greenhouse gas emissions to guide future legislation.

In ADAPT, we propose to support farmers and policy makers. We propose a smart-cropping management solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect soil carbon. It will use a practical and feasible combination of cover crops, under sown crops, reduced tillage, and reduced synthetic nitrogen. We will partner with farmers in the north and south of Luxembourg to test our management solution.

This partnership will involve comparing our smart cropping to conventional cropping, maintaining an experiment that diverts rainfall to mimic drought, and analysing soil and soil microorganisms in the lab to understand how our management solution keeps carbon in the soil. The data we collect will be used to calibrate and validate models that can simulate greenhouse gas emissions at the two sites. We will compare three popular models and select the best one, then collect national soil and climate data to scale up the model, to project emissions for all Luxembourg croplands. We will also incorporate regional climate projections to model the future greenhouse gas emissions for Luxembourg croplands.

ADAPT will transfer knowledge into Luxembourg: project partners from the University of Aberdeen are global experts in modelling agricultural soil carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. They will train staff at the Luxembourg Institute for Science and Technology in this valuable skill. Throughout the project, the ADAPT team will disseminate field and modelling results to the farm community.

Finally, improved greenhouse gas emissions maps for croplands will be delivered to policy makers at the end of the project, an important step-change towards reducing cropland greenhouse gas emissions in Luxembourg. 

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