Study Site Trials

The SICS selected for trialling in this Study Site are described below:

General Treatment Category Study Site Trials
Cover crops    1. Biological compaction release (4 levels of compaction) - Cover crop with deep root crops (3 types of crops); No cover crops
 2. Cover crop - Catch crop - Undersown of Mix 1: Chicory, perennial ryegrass and alfalfa; Undersown of Mix 2: White clover, “Birdsfoot trefoil” and crimson clover; Sown after harvest Mix 3: Forage radish and ww. Ryegrass; Sown after harvest Mix 4: vetch, hairy vetch and pisum; No cover crop (Barley)
   3. Precision agriculture (demonstration) 




SICS 1 :- Biological compaction release - Cover crops with deep roots– (3 types of cover crops)


 SoilCare Solør O. Sveen    Planterøtter SoilCare Solør T. Seehusen   

 norway cover crops

 Read this fact sheet in Norwegian here

 SoilCare Solør 2 O. Sveen      

 Key findings

  • The yields for all three seasons showed a variation between years but no significant effect of treatments on yields. 
  • The results for the soil organic carbon (SOC) show no clear effect of crop rotation, but a tendency towards reduced SOC on the non-compacted reference plots was identified. In addition, a trend towards lower N min following compaction was identified, especially in rotations 2 and 3.
  • Alfalfa had a positive effect on bulk density, especially on a compacted plot, where the bulk density improved significantly compared to the compacted state.
  • Although the oil seed variety grown had been expected to be well-adapted to the short growing season in Norway, the oilseed established poorly. It is expected that Alfalfa residues will result in a considerable amount of biomass on and in the soil (roots). This addition of biomass will result in increased SOC over time.

SICS 2 :- Cover crops/Catch crops 

- Undersown of Mix 1: Chicory, perennial ryegrass and alfalfa;

- Undersown of Mix 2: White clover, “Birdsfoot trefoil” and crimson clover;

- Sown after harvest Mix 3: Forage radish and ww. Ryegrass;

- Sown after harvest Mix 4: vetch, hairy vetch and pisum;

- No cover crops (Barley) 



norway cover crops 2

Read this fact sheet in Norwegian here

Hvitsten 1 001 cropped    

Key findings

  • It was difficult to establish and achieve a sufficient density of cover crop plants in the small plot scale experiment in Øsaker, especially in years that were dry (2018) and in years with high precipitation (2019).
  • Occasionally high amounts of weeds (chickweed), as well as practical challenges, might have affected the growth of the cover crop species and the main crop in later years.
  • High temperatures in 2018 resulted in poor plant growth and consequently, an excess in mineral nitrogen in the soil, as illustrated by the high levels of mineral N in 2018 compared to 2019 and 2020
  • Differences in soil organic carbon between years could be an effect of the summer drought.
  • The plant species most often observed through field observations was vetch in the Spring sown nitrogen fixating cover crop mixture and ryegrass in the Spring and Autumn sown cover crops root mix treatments. Crimson clover in the Spring sown nitrogen fixating cover crop treatment and radish in Autumn sown cover crops root mix treatment was observed occasionally. 
  • The results show a decrease in mean relative crop yield for treatments where legume cover crop species were included (Spring and Autumn sown nitrogen fixating cover crop treatments). 


SICS 3 :- Precision agriculture (demonstration) 

 Apelsvoll 001

Geographical description

The study site is located in Akershus county in south-eastern Norway, one of the main areas for cereal cropping systems. The total area of Akershus county is 4918 km2 with agricultural area covering ca. 900 km2. Marine sediments with clay and silt dominate. Artificial land levelling was performed in the 70-80ties to promote use of larger machinery and cereal cropping systems. In some municipalities, up to 40 % of the agricultural area is levelled, resulting in high erosion risk. The county area will be used for stakeholder analyses. Precipitation range between 665-785 mm annually and winter period with frozen soils and snowmelt has a major influence and soil processes (infiltration, erosion). Soil data is available for each farmer’s field.The catchments Skuterud (6.8 km2) and Mørdre (4.5 km2) within Akershus county will be used for more detailed analyses. Skuterud and Mørdre represent cereal production in undulating landscapes with erosion problems. In addition, use will be made of two experimental field sites: Apelsvoll cropping system experimental site and Kjelle experimental fields. The Apelsvoll cropping system is located on Apelsvoll, near the largest lake in Norway, Mjøsa, in Central South-east Norway (120 km north of Oslo). The altitude is 250 m.a.s.l. The cropping system was established in 1988/1989, it covers 3.2 ha. The experiment comprises 12 mini-farms, each having a four-year crop rotation. Altogether six cropping systems are represented (two replicates): Three systems with cash-cropping (mainly cereals) and three systems with both arable and fodder crops, representing mixed dairy production. Kjelle is located near Bjørkelangen, about 60 km east from Oslo, on an area with shallow slopes. The experiments started in 2014, with emphasise of this experiment (9 plots, each 8 x 50 m in size) on analysing soil management effects on soil surface discharge and infiltration

Cropping systems

Cropping intensity
Akershus County is dominated by conventional agricultural cropping intensity; organic farming is ongoing on a small scale. Conservation methods and precision management is promoted and under research, but not widespread. Grain and oil seed production covers 69% of the agricultural area, 26% is used for forage crops. In Skuterud catchment, 90 % of the area is used for grain and oil seed production and 10 % for grass cultivation, while in Mørdre catchment 85% of the area is used for grain production, 6 % for potatoes and 4% for grass production. Skuterud has 43% autumn wheat, 30% oats and 19% barley, while Mørdre has 40% oats and 33% barley. The arable crops at Apelsvoll experimental site include spring cereals (wheat, barley, oats) and potatoes and oats with peas. Fodder crops include grass–clover leys and meadow grasses with red clover. Kjelle has an annual grain production with focus on soil management.
Management of soil, water, nutrients and pests
Autumn ploughing has dominated cereal production. Subsidies promoting reduced tillage has led to increased spring tillage (53% for total cereal area) and light autumn harrowing replacing ploughing. All farmers are obliged to have a fertilizer plan based on soil samples to receive production support.
Soil improving cropping system and techniques currently used The Regional Environmental Programme supports, by use of subsidies:
  • reduced tillage
  • leaving area in stubble until spring
  • light autumn harrowing (leaving minimum 30 % straw on soil surface)
  • direct drilling
  • use of catch crops.
In addition, support is given for grass on areas with high erosion risk, buffer zones, grassed waterways and sedimentation ponds.
Problems that cause yield loss or increased costs
From 1991 the area of cereal production has decreased in Norway. From 2000 it is reduced by 14 %. Part of the area has shifted from cereal to grassland production - promoted by subsides for grassland to reduce erosion and improve water quality. Subsidies for meat production has also increased the area of grassland. In addition, the crop yield/unit area has shown stagnation and even a decreasing trend, but with high variations. An expert group appointed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food in 2013 has explained losses due to: soil compaction, lack of good drainage, lack of crop rotation, plant diseases, choice of variety, genetic material, suboptimal level of fertilizer, plant health issues.Reduced tillage to reduce erosion can increase fusarium and reduce yields. A follow up project- from evaluation to action – is now focusing on dissemination activities to extension service and farmers to increase yields. The expert group has also listed both economic and societal reasons for lower yields.