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Zagreb, December 4, 2015
Round table "Climate, soil, water and agriculture"

Croatian agrometeorology stepped in academic circles

In the atmosphere of negotiations in Paris on an ambitious global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, on December 4, 2015 in the Library of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU) an important round table entitled "Climate, soil, water and agriculture" for the Croatian science was held. The initiator of the round table was the Croatian Agrometeorological Society (HAgMD) whose initiative was supported by the Scientific Council for Environmental Protection of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts and thus the Croatian agrometeorological research for the first time entered the academic circles.

Welcoming speech was given by Academician Ferdo Bašić, chairman of the Scientific Council for Nature Conservation of Academy. Also, the gathering was addressed by Dr. Višnja Vučetić, president of HAgMD. The round table was led by Dr. Marjana Gajić-Čapka, deputy head of the Section for the Climate of the Scientific Council for Nature Protection of Academy. The Academy Library Hall was packed, with 70 participants, indicating the great interest of the academic community on this topic.

The round table marked the International Year of Soils, whose motto is "Healthy soil for healthy life", as well as the World Soil Day on December 5, which the United Nations has declared two years ago. The soil is still the least protected component of the environment in contrast to air and water. The public is not sufficiently alerted about soil degradation and its negative impact on natural ecosystems, the economy and ultimately on human health. Erosion, pollution, salinization and soil compaction as well as the reduction of organic matter, loss of biodiversity, land-use changes, flooding and landslides directly or indirectly enhance the climate change.

In addition to global climate change, from which we are sometimes intimidated by the public media, it is essential that our public is on objective and accessible way familiar with what is happening in our country, which climate change is perceived and how they affect the individual branches of economic activity. Therefore, the purpose of this round table was to show the link between climate, soil and water in agriculture, that is, how agrometeorological research can help the development of modern agriculture and adaptation to climate change in agriculture. And why is this so important?

The answer to this question came from the four presentations of excellent speakers of the round table. Today, a strategic issue in each country is how to provide enough food, but good quality food, to feed all the people, knowing that the there is more than one billion malnourished and hungry people in the world. There is much of the disparity between developed and developing countries. More and more, we are witnessing climate change and extreme weather and climate disasters. Natural disasters are increasingly threatening agricultural production, so the public is increasingly interested in global warming, the temperature reconstructions in the past and projections of future climate by the end of this century. The key message sent to us in lecture by Prof. Branko Grisogono, from the Department of Geophysics, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, is that the current global warming is a reality. With the certainty of 99%, it can be said that human activity (anthropogenic impacts) is the main cause of the increase in global temperatures, because it is happening faster than the natural temperature changes over the last tens of thousands of years.

The first who respond to weather and climate change in nature is plant life, so monitoring their development (phenology) stages is a good indicator of climate change, as highlighted by Dr. Višnja Vučetić, Head of Department of Agrometeorology of Meteorological and Hydrological Service. Agrometeorological research already shows the early start of the growing season from 2 to 5 days in the 10 years, depending on the plant species. If nothing is done, due to the global increase in air temperature and decreased precipitation under climate scenarios, by the end of the 21st century earlier harvest of maize up to a month and a half is expected in our area, with a drop in grain yield up to 25%, which could have drastic economic losses about 55 million US dollars. Therefore, the results warns agronomic experts and farmers that there is no time to spare and consequently adapted varieties and appropriate agro-technical management should be taken immediately to alleviate the effects of extreme weather.

In addition to weather and climatic conditions, temperature conditions prevailing in the soil are important for the growth and development of plants. Petra Sviličić, mag. phys-geophys., from the Department of Agrometeorology of Meteorological and Hydrological Service, showed the vulnerable areas of agricultural production due to the high and low soil temperatures. She noted that since 2000 the temperature of the surface layer of soil above 45 °C in duration longer than 10 days began to appear along the Adriatic coast and in eastern Slavonia, and before that was recorded only in the Dubrovnik area.

One of the mitigation measures in such extreme conditions in the soil is certainly irrigation, as emphasized by Prof. Davor Romić from the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zagreb. He pointed to the importance of agrometeorological measurements in irrigation on the case of experimental stations in the vineyards near Šibenik. He noticed the positive impact of proper water management for the growth and development of the vine, and on the yield and quality of grapes.

The main conclusion of the round table is that agricultural production cannot be left to chance. It is of great importance to bring closer agrometeorological research and knowledge to agronomic experts and farmers and show how them how agrometeorology can help modern agriculture in food production.

Dr. Višnja Vučetić
Translated: Petra Sviličić, mag. phys.-geophys.


Round table „Climate, water, soil and agriculture“ held in the Library of the Croatian
Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU) in Zagreb, December 4, 2015.


Chairpersons and speakers of Round table „Climate, water, soil and agriculture“ held in the
Library of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (CASA) in Zagreb, December 4, 2015.



HAgMD @ 2014.