Sustainable use of soil and water for improving crops productivity in irrigated areas (SOIL4EVER)

Cofinanciado por:
Acronym | SOIL4 EVER
Project title | Sustainable use of soil and water for improving crops productivity in irrigated areas (SOIL4EVER)
Project Code | PTDC/ASP-SOL/28796/2017
Main objective | Reforçar a Investigação, o desenvolvimento tecnológico e a inovação

Region of intervention | Portugal

Beneficiary entity |
  • INIAV - Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e Veterinária(líder)
  • Associação do Instituto Superior Técnico para a Investigação e o Desenvolvimento (Sigla: IST-ID) (parceiro)
  • FCiências.ID - Associação para a Investigação e desenvolvimento de Ciências(parceiro)
  • Universidade de Évora(parceiro)

Approval date | 23-03-2018
Start date | 01-10-2018
Date of the conclusion | 30-09-2021
Date of extension | 30-09-2022

Total eligible cost | 233714 €
European Union financial support |
National/regional public financial support | República Portuguesa - 233714 €


Irrigation is of primal importance to improve agricultural productivity in Portugal, where ecological conditions
are characterized by warm and dry summers with high evapotranspiration rates. However, the increased
evapotranspiration associated with irrigation is a pressure on soil salinization, through the accumulation of salts in
the soil profile, which would result in a decrease in crop yields and ultimately leading to land desertification and
Salinization and nutrient leaching controll associated to water economy are sufficient reasons for establishing sound
management options and through it minimize soil degradation and maximize crop yields.
This research team has been studying soil degradation in irrigated districts for the last 15 years in an integrated way.
The team developed and tested a set of methodologies for assessing, predicting, and minimizing soil salinization risks,
improving fertilization efficiency, and maximizing crop yields in southern Portugal [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. This knowledge will
now be extended to different agricultural fields located in Roxo's irrigation district (Alentejo), adapting the irrigation to
the soil properties through hydrological modeling and crop development as a function of meteorological conditions.
This project aims:
1. to identify and monitor soil salinization susceptible areas in the irrigation district;
2. to study the effect of irrigation water quality on crop development using physiological indicators and, relating them
with yield [10];
3. to improve irrigation water management and nitrogen fertilization using modeling tools [3, 4, 11], which will help
minimizing soil salinization risks;
4. to develop a webGIS platform for soil degradation awareness and promotion of best agricultural practices for a
sustainable use of soils. The WebGIS platform will integrate the results by extrapolating modeling results and will
provide tailor made solutions for minimizing soil degradation risks and maximizing crop yields in the irrigation district.
The working program necessary to achieve these objectives will include the monitoring of irrigation water quality of
the Roxo reservoir and the study of the spatial distribution of soil properties using electromagnetic induction and
geostatistical methods [6, 7, 8, 9].
The problem of soil salinization is an old one. The novelty of this project is its association with irrigation optimization
practices that guarantee the preservation of the soil, without compromising farmers' income. The project will also
contribute to improving the Portuguese tools available for the implementation of the Nitrate Directives and the Water
Directive and for soil conservation. To achieve these objectives, the Project is organized in 6 tasks and has a
multidisciplinary team from several institutions.

Objectives, activities and expected/achieved results


Os objetivos são:
1. identificar e monitorizar zonas potencialmente susceptíveis à salinidade do solo no perímetro de rega;
2. estudar o efeito da qualidade da água de rega no desenvolvimento de indicadores fisiológicos, relacionando-os
com a produção [10];
3. alcançar uma gestão sustentável da rega e da fertilização azotada através da modelação dos processos [3, 4, 11],
que permitirá aumentar a sua eficiência e minimizar os riscos de salinização do solo;
4. desenvolver uma plataforma WebGIS de modo a contribuir para o aumento da consciencialização face aos riscos
de degradação do solo e promover o uso de práticas agrícolas sustentáveis. A plataforma WebGIS integrará os
resultados da extrapolação dos modelos para o perímetro do Roxo e fornecerá soluções adequadas para diferentes
casos, de modo a minimizar os riscos de degradação do solo e maximizar o rendimento das culturas.


Objetivo principal:

Desenvolver uma plataforma WebGIS para o estado de salinidade do solo, de modo a contribuir para o aumento da consciencialização face a este risco de degradação do solo e promover o uso de práticas agrícolas sustentáveis. A plataforma WebGIS integrará os resultados da extrapolação dos modelos para o perímetro do Roxo, validados com os dados monitorizados nas áreas experimentais, e fornecerá soluções adequadas para diferentes casos, de modo a minimizar os riscos de salinização do solo e maximizar o rendimento das culturas. Os utilizadores poderão visualizar as consequências das suas práticas em termos de consumo de água, produção das culturas, acumulação de sais e lixiviação de nutrientes. Os seus resultados poderão ainda ser comparados com as práticas recomendadas.


1 Monitoring salinity status in soils and water

2 Monitoring performance of main crops through physiological indicators

3 Mapping soil salinity with geophysical method

4 Modeling soil water dynamics and solute transport

5 Development of a Web Gis platform for soil salinity status

6 Project management and dissemination of results


Dissemination actions/products will include:
2 Progress Reports and 1 Final Report
1 PhD thesis
2 master thesis
5 papers in international journals
5 papers in national journals
12 participations in scientific meetings
4 pilot areas
1 webpage including the project description and all documents published during the project lifetime.
1 soils properties database. The database will include not only soil data obtained in SOIL4EVER but also data from soil profiles already caracterized in previous studies by the
team. A graphical tool will be created to visualize the location of the profiles and to download the properties of each horizon/layer.
1 WebGIS platform. That platform will become an irrigation support service beyond the end of the project. The farmers can select from defined conditions of soil type, climate and
some crops and are allowed to define their irrigation scheduling and amount of water applied. MOHID-Land will then return the soil salinization risks and recommendations for
improving irrigation water management. The input data necessary for running MOHID-Land will be pre-defined based on the above selected conditions.
3 modelling tools (PTFs application, geophysical methods application, simplified version of Mohid_Land to the awareness tool "serious game".
1 awareness tool "serious game"
1 Platform users' guide
1 database users' guide
1 tool "serious game" users' guide
4 informal meetings with the farmers (al least one in each experimental field) during the experimental work in order to explain them the reason of the different measurements
and the input data needed to run the models HYDRUS and Mohid_Land models
3 Formal Meetings with the farmers, to present the Platform and the database. The structure of these meetings will be discussed with the Advisory Board.
Final workshop with the participation of all partners.
Participation in local meetings is a tradition of this consortium, and is the best way for disseminating results to farmers, local land managers, and stakeholders. These meetings
will be held in Roxo's farmers Water Broad, which manages the local irrigation infrastructures and water distribution. A final workshop will be held for presenting the project results
to farmers and stakeholders.