PatchCROP is an experimental infrastructure of ZALF located in Brandenburg, North-East Germany and started in 2020. It includes a 70 ha large field surrounded by more than 700 ha of agricultural fields. Site-specific small structured field patches of 72 m × 72 m size were organised in two different yield potential zones through an automated cluster analysis of the entire field, using 10 years of yield and soil data. A specific and optimized crop rotation was developed in each yield potential zone based on expert knowledge and crop rotation restrictions. The field is characterised by very heterogeneous soil conditions with varying soil texture and topography, with Albic, Eutric Retisol and Arenosol. In addition, three different land use intensities were implemented:
- Conventional pesticide application
- Situation and crop dependent approaches to reduce pesticides
- Similar to the second land use intensity but with additional 12 m wide flower strips next to the patches in order to support natural pest control.
PatchCROP landscape experiment assess the effect of adapted crop rotation (5 year rotation) and pesticide reduction on numerous variables dealing with crop yield and soil characteristics. A clustering analysis of 10 year dataset including yield and soil characteristics was implemented to divide the 70 ha-field in high and low yield potential zones. Each zone includes 15 patches of 0,5 ha.
Comparison of adapted crop rotation and pesticide reduction with smaller field sizes.