A major purpose of WP2 is to manage existing and new datasets in a secure fully auditable manner, and supply data to the other WPs. The WP also formalises design criteria for new, improved legume-based crop rotations and cropping systems. This leads to the development of a range of management scenarios for the agro-environmental zones. Data management lies at the heart of the work and outputs include an open-access repository for data and information related to legume-based cropping systems (The European Legumes Resources Centre).
Development of a data repository with data from historic and new datasets
All data gathered in the course of this project will be managed and shared using a secure internet-based ‘Data Resource Centre’. This will serve all other aspects and groups related to this project and the wider community of legume researchers and users. Database structures, based on those used successfully in other projects (e.g. the database of around 150 experiments in the EU FP6 SIGMEA project), will be designed to accommodate and standardise the management of data from existing and past trials as well as data from the new trials in WP1. This information will be gathered systematically from among the consortium members and other researchers. The aim is to provide data which provides a reliable geographical coverage of the agro-ecological zones identified above rather than a comprehensive survey of all available data. The database will also be populated with data from on-going field experiments on legumes. All the data sets will be made publicly available (by request), so that new knowledge may be obtained from its analysis by others. The datasets will be fully validated and harmonised to a format that enables their exploitation in modelling and system impact-assessments, and where datasets allow, socio-economic studies.
Statistical analysis of historic and new datasets
Analysis including hierarchical statistical modelling. Data mining techniques (e.g. WEKA http://www.cs.waikato.ac.nz/ml/weka/; Debeljak et al., 2008) will be performed on the experimental datasets. The focus will be on meta-analysis of the experiments, providing a systematic and quantitative synthesis and insight into the impact of the various legume cropping approaches across the EU. To facilitate the analysis, the information from the experiments will be assimilated into a number of datasets on the basis of attributes to be assessed by the meta-analysis. This analysis will examine and determine, for example, how the performance of key species and varieties are affected by the environmental conditions; how the relative performance of species and varieties varies between sites; and how legume crop germplasm and environment affect crop performance.
Collation of economic data for current and new legume crops
Information from various statistical sources and extension services, facilitated by partners within each EU region, will be collated in the Data Resource Centre. The information will include data on required inputs, machinery, labour demands, yields and selling prices per crop.
New system designs, decision models and cropping options suited to different agro-ecological zones in Europe
Other work packages will develop the social, economic and environmental criteria for sustainable systems. These systems will include new and improved rotations, their management and the system components for which they are optimised. GxE effects will be considered and crop ideotypes proposed for new systems in the various zones. WP2 will organise the various criteria into an active influence diagram and a multi-attribute decision model (e.g. using Dexi software - http://www-ai.ijs.si/MarkoBohanec/dexi.html ) that will allow comparison of the various economic and environmental criteria and lead to new designs for legume-supported systems in the different parts of Europe. Experience has shown (see the Dexi web site) that alternative systems can be ranked through such MADMs as to their suitability, not only by scientists but also by growers and policy makers.
Assessing the new system designs
Stakeholders with experience of the different agronomic, cultural and socio-economic factors operating in different agro-ecological zones will be engaged in a formal workshop, using the decision models to identify the likely feasibility and uptake of the proposed new cropping systems.
The most promising cropping system designs will be identified to allow up-scaling of this information and therefore the likely impact of these new cropping options at a European scale. The information delivered in the course of the workshop will be linked to key resources contained in the European Legumes Resources Centre.
The European Legume Resource Centre (ELRC)
The ELRC will pool, maintain, organise and coordinate information in an internet-based repository. A key aim is a focal point for legume users in the public domain. A server will be established based upon freely available, plain-vanilla wiki software. Other legume-based system scientists and stakeholders outside the consortium will be invited to create, and populate content, enabling the site to evolve under the supervision of a ‘moderator’. The centralisation of information resources will extend to legumes germplasm databases and collections held throughout Europe (and internationally).
All except two partners are involved in WP2. Tasks are led by Mark Young, Graham Begg, Cathy Hawes, Geoff Squire and Pete Iannetta (all from JHI).