2022 > 12

The current (second) phase of SITES is soon coming to an end. As we turn the page and face the next chapter for the SITES infrastructure, there are some imminent changes taking place. For a start, my appointment as SITES Director, which began 5 years ago with the launch of SITES-II, is soon ending and a new Director with lots of energy, new ideas and visions will take over. My sincere welcome and best wishes to Kevin Bishop who will guide and steer SITES in the years to come!

The SITES infrastructure is also experiencing some change, as Tarfala Research Station will be leaving the infrastructure consortium. We plan to establish some type of association to facilitate future synergies and exchange, but for now I just want to extend my gratitude and appreciation to the past and present Tarfala staff and Stockholm University for a fruitful and productive collaboration during my time as SITES Director.
The SITES infrastructure has achieved many things over the past few years, but I particularly want to highlight the launch and development of the SITES Data Portal and the tremendous advances we have made in mobilizing data from all SITES stations and Thematic Programs. We have also kept the momentum in the Thematic Programs and consolidated and secured these activities to be a persistent and valuable resource for the stations and for ecosystem science. These programs have also been a great asset for bringing our stations and community of researchers and technical staff closer together. I really am deeply grateful and proud of the creativity, commitment, dedication and supportive atmosphere that I see within the SITES family!
With this I want to send you all my very best wishes for the upcoming holidays and a happy new year!

- Stefan Bertilsson (SITES current Director)

Despite the December darkness, snow conditions, and at times bitterly cold weather (as much as - 28°C a few days ago), outdoor activities in the forest of Svartberget Research Station are ongoing.

Manual harvest of trees in Svartberget Experimental Forest (Photo: Linnea Larsson) Manual harvest of trees in Svartberget Experimental Forest (Photo: Linnea Larsson)

Currently there is an on-going manual harvest of trees in two field trials at Svartberget Experimental Forest. The harvest has two aims; one aim is to transform the forest into what will eventually be a nice forest to stroll around in and the other is to move, as a first step, towards an example of continuous cover forestry (CCF). A common belief is that this would require a J-curve relationship between tree diameters and tree frequencies, characterized by many small trees and a few larger trees. The manual felling in the plots and the machines driving between plots, are conducted in way to leave as much as possible the existing natural regeneration intact. The forest may not look so nice now, but over time that impression will hopefully change.

The history of this particular forest is a bit complicated with three layers of field trials superimposed on top of each other. The first layer being a former scaling experiment established in 1995 at Svartberget with the aim of understanding the effects of nitrogen deposition on the composition of vegetation. The original scaling experiment constituted five plot sizes (1, 10, 100, 1000, 5000 m2) with three fertilization treatments (0, 12.5, 50 kg N/ha/year). The second layer, established in 2014 by using the original plots in the former experiment, includes two field trials, #7104 and #7105. In one of the field trials only the original 1000 m2 plot and the corresponding fertilization treatments were re-used. In the other trial, the original 5000 m2 plot was used to create 100 x 200m plots with 12 pairwise subplots, one recovering plot and one fertilized plot. All trees were measured and also their geographic positions recorded when these trials were established. The third layer is the current transition of the field trails to CCF conditions. All old trees have now been measured and also inventories of re-growth of new trees and shrubs in the plots have been performed.

What do we expect to find over time by studying the plots? For example, that the addition of nitrogen may promote seedling establishment and growth but maybe also results in more competing vegetation hampering successful seedling establishment. Time will tell.

Field trial layers at Svartberget Experimental Forest.
Field trial layers at Svartberget Experimental Forest.

The Erken Laboratory (Uppsala University) has an open position for a research engineer from February to the end of November 2023. The position includes a variety of different working tasks related to the implementation of the coordinated mesocosm experiments conducted within SITES AquaNet and the EU-project AQUACOSM-plus, Erken’s long-term lake monitoring programme and SITES Water.
This position provides a great opportunity for those interested to work in a research infrastructure and collect field measurements, but also offers many possibilities for interactions within collaborative team science projects related to the planned mesocosm experiments. The mesocosm experiments will focus on the functional and compositional consequences of different run-off and salt disturbance regimes. More information about the experiments can be found here.
The advertised position and a link to the application system can be found here:

Application deadline: January 13, 2023

SITES AquaNet Platform on Lake Erken

High use of external inputs, especially agrochemicals, has considerably increased food production since the Green Revolution. This has, however, also led to a decline in biodiversity and contributed to a change in climate, soil, air and water quality. Hence, there is a need to develop cropping systems that are multi-functional, i.e. not only increase food production, but also improves the environment and economy.

Multi-actor visit to strip cropping field on 27 October 2022. Photo: Raj Chongtham Multi-actor visit to strip cropping field on 27 October 2022. Photo: Raj Chongtham

In order to develop new multi-functional cropping systems, a new project at SITES Lönnstorp, funded by Formas, will study the possibility to design diversified cropping systems based on strip cropping, i.e. growing crops on the same field in distinguishable stripes or patches. The strip cropping will consist of winter oilseed rape and winter wheat and will be intercropped with and without winter pea. The project has a participatory approach and the co-designed cropping systems will be established and evaluated both at farming fields and at SITES Lönnstorps research station during three growing seasons. The performance of each diversification approach (strip cropping and intercropping with winter pea) will be evaluated in terms of pest and natural enemy abundance, weeds, diseases, crop nitrogen acquisition and yield. The sustainability (economic, environmental and social dimensions) of the co-designed cropping systems will also be assessed by using a multi-criteria sustainability assessment tool.

You can read more about the project here

Strip cropping of winter oilseed rape, winter wheat and winter pea on 27 October 2022. Photo: Raj Chongtham

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