On Drought (Na suchu) is a citizen science project investigating the current state of the agricultural landscape. It aims to jointly create a database monitoring the impacts of drought in Czech agriculture, to share examples of bad and good practices and thus contribute to a better future in the field of water retention in the landscape, a better yield of fields and more ecological management.
Whether you are a farmer, a farm landowner, or a random passerby, we will be happy if you get involved by taking photos directly in the field in agricultural areas and uploading them to iNaturalist. For observation, we are interested in 6 main categories:
1. Solitary trees that are planted in the agricultural landscape in order to retain more moisture for cultural crops.
2. Crops occurring in the fields. This category is further divided into two sections, indicate whether it is a monoculture (all around you, i.e. there is only one crop in the whole field) or, conversely, a combination of several crops.
3. Biobelts and embankments. Biobelts are approximately 6 to 12 meters wide strips at the edges or inside the field on which plants other than on the rest of the field are grown. Their area is never harvested, they contribute to biodiversity and are also one of the anti-erosion measures. By embankment is meant a smaller area within the field, on which are planted mainly tree species. They have a beneficial impact on the surrounding landscape. They act as windbreaks, reduce water and wind erosion, are a source of food and nutrients, therefore contribute to biodiversity, help to retain water in the field and at the same time prevent the washing of nutrients into watercourses and groundwater.
4. Restoring dirt roads. As a result of the intensification of agriculture, dirt roads have almost disappeared from the agricultural landscape, which paradoxically has an impact on people and their farming on these areas. Landowners and farmers have thus lost access to some agricultural areas and lost the opportunity to farm these lands. Roads also serve as a link between non-agricultural areas such as a village and a forest or a pond. However, dirt roads also have enormous benefits for the agricultural landscape. They serve as bunds to protect fields from water erosion. By planting shrubs and trees along the roads, the effects of wind erosion are reduced and water retention in the landscape is promoted.
5. Building pools and areas that could be used to retain water in the agricultural landscape. These include swales, which are ditches that retain rainwater. The aim of swales is to prevent water from running down the surface into the valley and soaking into the soil.
6. Planting fruit trees in agroforestry fields. This is a method of farming on agricultural (or forest) land that combines the growing of trees with some form of agricultural production on a single plot, either spatially or temporally.
And how to do it?
When taking and inserting photos into the iNaturalist project, please follow these steps:
1. Always take at least two photos of the element up close (to determine the species) and at a distance (if circumstances allow).
- Photograph the solitary tree with an interval of approximately 10 m, then take a close-up of its detail (preferably a leaf or flower).
- Photograph crops found in the fields in the context of the entire area of the field, then take a detailed picture of one plant.
- Photograph the biobelts and embankments in the whole context so that their entire area can be seen, then take a close-up photo of the dominant species that prevails in the photographed area.
- Photograph trees planted in agroforestry fields in the context of the whole field area, then take a close-up picture of one tree.
2. Specify or have the system fill in the species/genus of the plant you have recorded (this step is not necessary, you can leave the identification to us).
3. For crops, indicate whether it is a monoculture or a combination of crops.
4. Add your observations to the On Drought project (Na suchu) and fill in the attributes that the application will ask you to do.
5. Indicate which category it is.
Note: the type of plant is suggested by the iNaturalist program itself using artificial intelligence elements; date, time and position are filled in automatically if you have GPS position recording turned on on your phone.
We welcome all those who will participate in the research and help scientists, farmers and landowners to jointly reduce the negative impacts of drought on the Czech agricultural landscape and preserve the fertility and cultural profitability of Czech fields for future generations.
Thank you and we look forward to your observation!