Managing water scarcity in European and Chinese cropping systems


Bright and early (0730 in UK time) on a Monday morning, instead of physically convening over a Viennese coffee, 10 intrepid researchers / bloggers  joined an online discussion of  EGU session SSS9.4  entitled “Challenges for competitive and sustainable EU-China agricultural systems under increasing pressures on soil and water resources”, with SHui amply represented.




Our co-ordinator Jose Gomez hosted the session, with 9 chat-based presentations and a “home movie” on Gully Erosion that can be downloaded below (watch out Netflix!).

There was a diverse range of presentations, including mapping soil erosion, determining productive (transpiration) and non-productive (evaporation) agricultural water use and use of water-saving irrigation techniques. Ian Dodd concluded proceedings with a presentation on a previous EU project that allowed EU early career researchers to spend significant research time in China. 

There was considerable post-session discussion of trying to operate in a Covid-19 environment.

SHui partners also contributed to other sessions, such as Czech Technical University PhD students Nina Noreika and Tailin Li, who presented in the session HS2.2.1 “Models and Data: Understanding and representing spatio-temporal dynamics of hydrological processes”.


The SHui presentations were the following and can be downloaded: 


Uncertainties associated with the delineation of management zones in precision agriculture

Tomás R. Tenreiro, Margarita García-Vila, José A. Gómez, and Elías Fereres


Plot-scale experiments to assess the effects of surface spatial heterogeneity on runoff and soil loss

David Zumr, Jakub Jeřábek, Josef Krása, and Tomáš Dostál


Research challenges on gully erosion control in EU and China

Jose Alfonso Gomez, Guangju Zhao, Honghu Liu, Yu Yang, Javier Lopez, and Yun Xie


Partitioning evapotranspiration into transpiration and evaporation by use of isotope balance calculation

Gunther Liebhard, Andreas Klik, Peter Strauß, and Reinhard Nolz


Evaluating AquaCrop for simulating response of tomato to irrigation induced salinity

Yuki Ito and Alon Ben-Gal


Recent trends in crop rotation in the Czech Republic and associated soil erosion risks

Josef Krasa, Tomas Dostal, David Zumr, Adam Tejkl, and Miroslav Bauer


Deficit irrigation and the reuse of reclaimed water as strategies to cope with water scarcity in perennial crops. A summary of long-term trials within the H2020 SHUI project

Diego Intrigliolo, Emilio Nicolas, Francisco Pedrero, Pedro Nortes, and Juan José Alarcón


SEW-REAP: planting the seeds of early career soil-soya research in China

Ian Dodd, Pedro Castro, Purificacion Martinez-Melgarejo, Francisco Perez-Alfocea, Jian Tian, Hon-Ming Lam, Jianhua Zhang, and David Tyfield




12th March – Newton Rigg, Penrith, UK

On 12th March, the Eden River’s Trust organised an event for farmers in the Eden river catchment to present the new sward lifter and inform them of the benefits and opportunities it offers.



Throughout the day, farmers and agricultural students attended the event to see the brand new sward lifter. Members of the SHui Lancaster University team were on site to discuss water and soil-based research on soil compaction alleviation and mitigation and shared future research plans with attendees.

Members of Carrs Billington Agriculture Ltd. and Natural England Catchment Sensitive Farming also attended and provided farmers with technical and Countryside Stewardship (CS) Scheme support, respectively.

The sward lifter has a hydraulic fan-driven seed drill attached, which allows sowing cover/catch crops and other seeds, and is now available for Eden’s farmers to use!




International Soil and Water Conservation Research, 2020,


José A. Gómeza, Alon Ben-Galb, Juan J. Alarcónc, Gabrielle De Lannoyd, Shannon de Roosd, Tomáš Dostále, Elias Fereresf, Diego S. Intriglioloc, Josef Krásae, Andreas Klikg, Gunther Liebhardg, Reinhard Nolzg, Aviva Peetersh, Elke Plaasi, John N. Quintonj, Miao Ruik, Peter Straussl, Xu Weifengk, Zhiqiang Zhangm, Funing Zhongn, David Zumre, Ian C. Doddj


a Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, IAS, CSIC, Avda Menendez Pidal S/N, Cordoba, Spain

b Agricultural Research Organization, Gilat Research Center, Israel

c Centro de Edafología y Biología Aplicada Del Segura (CSIC), Dept. Riego, Murcia, Spain

d Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, KU Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium

e Czech Technical University in Prague, Faculty of Civil Engineering. CVUT, Prague, Czech Republic

f Agronomy Department, University of Cordoba, Cordoba, Spain

g University of Agricultural Sciences Vienna (BOKU), Vienna, Austria

h TerraVision Lab, Midreshet Ben-Gurion, Israel

I Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany

j Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, UK

k Center for Plant Water-Use and Nutrition Regulation and College of Life Sciences, Joint International Research Laboratory of Water and Nutrient in Crops, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou, China

l Institute for Land and Water Management Research, Federal Agency for Water Management, Petzenkirchen, Austria

m College of Soil and Water Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, China

n College of Economics and Management, Nanjing Agricultural University, NAU, Nanjing, China



This article outlines the major scientific objectives of the SHui project that seeks to optimize soil and water use in agricultural systems in the EU and China, by considering major current scientific challenges in this area. SHui (for Soil Hydrology research platform underpinning innovation to manage water scarcity in European and Chinese cropping systems) is large cooperative project that aims to provide significant advances through transdisciplinary research at multiple scales (plot, field, catchment and region). This paper explains our research platform of long-term experiments established at plot scale, approaches taken to integrate crop and hydrological models at field scale; coupled crop models and satellite-based observations at regional scales; decision support systems for specific farming situations; and the integration of these technologies to provide policy recommendations through socio-economic analysis of the impact of soil and water saving technologies. It also outlines the training of stakeholders to develop a basic common curriculum despite the subject being distributed across different disciplines and professions. As such, this article provides a review of major challenges for improving soil and water use in EU and China as well as information about the potential to access information made available by SHui, and to allow others to engage with the project.