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The aim of the present project is biomass production (dry biomass and vegetable oils for production of first and second generation biofuels) from different annual energy crops using practices friendly to the environment. The project aims at testing novel cropping practices (tillage and crop establishment, crop rotations) that would improve the energetic and economic performance while they will lead to more sustainable cropping systems by improving soil organic matter content, reducing soil loss through water and wind erosion. Two no till machines one drilling (for winter cereals) and one planting (for spring sown crops) will be introduced. New innovative machinery developed in the last years will be introduced and tested in the present project. More specifically the present project will include:

1. Testing of energy crops (12 species) under different tillage systems (conventional – no till). The quantity and quality of the produced biomass will be studied and its suitability for different conversion technologies will be defined.

2. Innovative crop rotations will be applied that will combine winter and spring crops as well as legumes and other species in order to achieve a continuous soil coverage by vegetation to minimise soil erosion,  reduce weed infestation and the N fertilizer application, increase water use efficiency and improve the use of human labour and farm machinery.

3.   Conservation tillage systems (minimum tillage and no tillage) will be applied in order to achieve erosion control, increased soil fertility (soil organic matter and biodiversity increase), reduce energy consumption and increased C sequestration in the soil.

4. The effects of the innovative practices and technology to soil erosion will be studied in field experiments

5. In pilot plots the three systems of crop establishment, two crop rotations and three N- fertilization levels will be studied. The crop data will be collected using precision agriculture technologies. In the same plots data will be collected for the energetic and economic balances, the CO2 balance and the life cycle assessment.

6. Energy and economic balances, GHGbalance and life cycle assessment (LCA) will be carried out for the systems tested.

7. The results of the experiments will be disseminated to the farmers and their advisors, to the farm machinery construction industry and to potential investors interested to develop energy production from biomass plants.

 

The objectives of the programme are:

1. To study crops that can be used for biomass for energy production suitable for the conditions of Greece and select the best for use to cover the country’s needs.

2. To study the best cropping practices that can lead to reduction of production inputs like energy and chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides) as results of crop rotations.

3. To study cropping practices that protect the soil from erosion and increase its fertility through improvements of soil structure, soil organic matter and increase biodiversity.

4. To study cropping practices that lead to increased efficiency use of natural resources and save energy and human labour.

5. To disseminate and  enhance adoption of reduced and no-till tillage systems by the introduction  of high quality innovative drilling and planting machines

6. To evaluate the new practices based on the economics of the exploitations, the yield of the crops, the energy savings, the reduction of CO2 and green house gases (GHG) emissions, the LCA and the effects on soil conservation and fertility.

7. To disseminate the new ideas of soil conservation, crop rotations and biomass production in Greece.

To study methods and technologies that would permit our country to adapt and achieve the requirements of the treaties we have singed (energy and renewable energy, reduction of chemical in agriculture, protection of soils and soil fertility).