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Major climate change models predict changing rainfall patterns with reduced summer rain. To address the effects of reduced rainfall, SOILCLIM will establish roof experiments with roofs that partially exclude rain and thus simulate drought conditions. These roofs will be established in crop fields across a range of current climatic conditions from Atlantic to Mediterranean Europe; in southern Sweden, central Germany and southern Spain that differ in soil organic carbon content. Also, an identical roof experiment is established in an agricultural long-term experiment in Switzerland to study the interaction between climate change and local management.

roof experiment
Roof experiment set-up in Switzerland (Photo: Dominika Kundel)

Soil organisms are essential for crop development. Microbial communities are major drivers of carbon dynamics in agricultural soils and soil animals are important contributors to the decomposition of dead organic matter and water holding capacity of agricultural soils. Soil predators can be an important component of the natural enemy community of agricultural pests, controlling below- and aboveground herbivores and decomposers. In each of the crop fields SOILCLIM will (1) determine the microbial and soil fauna diversity, (2) determine the ecosystem services provided by microorganisms and soil fauna and (3) monitors crop development. Finally, SOILCLIM will bring the results together and develop sets of indicators that can act as early warning system for drought stress in summer and are adaptable to local conditions.

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