Crop rotation for green manuring in greenhouse [Greece]

Aμειψισπορά για χλωρή λίπανση σε θερμοκήπιο

technologies_1246 - Greece

Completeness: 67%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:
Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Preventing and Remediating degradation of soils in Europe through Land Care (EU-RECARE )
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Technical University of Crete (Technical University of Crete) - Greece

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Crop rotation and use of green manure in sequence with sorghum and tomato

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


The angiosperm Sorghum vulgare is used in green house cultivations in coastal Timpaki, Crete, Greece, for green manuring through crop rotation with tomato plants. The crop rotation usually takes place every other summer when the green house is fallow. Sorghum plants are commonly used for grain, fibre and fodder, but this technology uses plants as soil conditioners.

Purpose of the Technology: The technology is applied as an effective agronomic measure for the increase of the productive capacity of soil, the reduction of pests (due to breaking or limiting pest cycles) and soil borne diseases and the mitigation of soil salinity. This technology mitigates and prevents soil degradation by improving the soil and subsoil structure through the deep root system of the plants (often >1 m) and increasing nutrient and organic matter availability through the incorporation of the plant biomass into the soil by tilling it under. Furthermore, the improved structure of the soil leads in higher infiltration rates, mitigates the salt accumulation in the root zone and combats soil salinity, one of the main soil degradation problems in the coastal zone. The increase of workload and the demand of irrigation water during the dry summer period constitute the main drawbacks of the SLM technology.

Establishment / maintenance activities and inputs: Initially, when the main crop (tomato- Solanum lycopersicum) is removed from the green house in June, about 7 kg of Sorghum seeds per 0.1 ha are sown and incorporated in the soil by ploughing at about 4-5 cm depth. Sorghum is drought- and heat-tolerant thus the irrigation needs are minimum and depend on the respective climatic conditions. As it is used for manuring and not fodder or fruit production, water stress conditions are favorable as the root system expands deeper in order to fulfill plant water needs thus improving the soil structure. In September, the farmer uses a branch grinder to fritter the Sorghum plants and then incorporates them in the soil by tillage.

Natural / human environment: The average annual precipitation in the area is 500 mm and the climate ranges between sub-humid Mediterranean and semi-arid. Average annual temperature is 18.5 degrees C with 6 months below 18 degrees C but above 5 degrees C, thus classifying the area as subtropical. In the location where the technology is applied, land is mostly privately owned and water rights can be public, cooperative or private. The financial means of the land user applying this technology are more or less on par with those of the rest of the community.
This Technology was documented within the scope of FP7 RECARE Project, funded grant agreement no 603498.

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:


Further specification of location:



Total area covered by the SLM Technology is 0.006 km2.

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • 10-50 years ago

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through land users' innovation
Comments (type of project, etc.):

The specific user has started using the crop rotation system for green manuring in his greenhouse in 2000. Since then he has experimented with a variety of plants in order to decide which works better for his case. He has been using sorghum for the past 8 years since it's the variety that suits better to the climatic conditions inside the greenhouse.

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • cereals - sorghum
  • tomatoes
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 1

Longest growing period in days: 270Longest growing period from month to month: September to May

Is crop rotation practiced?



Major cash crop: Tomato, Sorghum

Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): The main problem in the region is the change in the groundwater quality, caused by the exploitation and seawater intrusion, resulting in soil salinisation through irrigation.The lack of sustainable freshwater resources for irrigation results in increased production risk and agricultural inputs. Also, soil quality is reduced due to the use of brackish water for irrigation and the intensive agricultural practices.

Major land use problems (land users’ perception): The reduction of soil fertility and productivity because of the over-exploitation of land and excessive use of pesticide.

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • full irrigation

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • rotational systems (crop rotation, fallows, shifting cultivation)

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A2: Organic matter/ soil fertility
  • A4: Subsurface treatment

Main measures: agronomic measures

Type of agronomic measures: green manure, rotations / fallows

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

chemical soil deterioration

chemical soil deterioration

  • Cs: salinization/ alkalinization
biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bq: quantity/ biomass decline

Main type of degradation addressed: Bq: quantity / biomass decline

Secondary types of degradation addressed: Cs: salinisation / alkalinisation

Main causes of degradation: crop management (annual, perennial, tree/shrub) (Intensive mono-cultivation)

Secondary causes of degradation: disturbance of water cycle (infiltration / runoff) (Covering of land with greenhouses decreases natural leaching from precipitation.), over abstraction / excessive withdrawal of water (for irrigation, industry, etc.) (Overpumping.), land tenure (Short period land leasing), inputs and infrastructure: (roads, markets, distribution of water points, other, …) (Poor coverage of freshwater irrigation network.)

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • prevent land degradation
  • reduce land degradation

Main goals: mitigation / reduction of land degradation

Secondary goals: prevention of land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Sorghum is seeded in May and incorporated in the ground in September.

Location: Timpaki. Heraklion, Crete

Date: 03/04/2015

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: low

Technical knowledge required for land users: low

Main technical functions: improvement of subsoil structure (hardpan), increase in organic matter, increase in nutrient availability (supply, recycling,…)

Secondary technical functions: improvement of ground cover, improvement of topsoil structure (compaction), increase of infiltration, increase / maintain water stored in soil

Green manure
Material/ species: Sorghum vulgare
Quantity/ density: 70 kg/ha

Rotations / fallows
Material/ species: Solanum lycopersicum (tomato) - Sorghum vulgare (sorghum)
Remarks: Tomato between September-May, Sorghum between May-September


Daliakopoulos Ioannis

4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

other/ national currency (specify):


If relevant, indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (e.g. 1 USD = 79.9 Brazilian Real): 1 USD =:


4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Seed sowing May
2. Irrigation 3-4 times in dry conditions
3. Reduce branch length with a branch grinder September
4. Incorporation of Sorghum in the soil with a tiller September

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Labour ha 1.0 132.0 132.0 100.0
Equipment Machine use ha 1.0 720.0 720.0 100.0
Plant material Seeds ha 1.0 75.0 75.0 100.0
Other Irrigation water ha 1.0 65.0 65.0 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 992.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 1066.67

Machinery/ tools: tilling machine, branch grinder

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

The buying of the required machinery (The specific land user rents the required machinery)

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specifications/ comments on rainfall:

About 400-500 mm annually

Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid
  • semi-arid

Thermal climate class: subtropics. 6 months below 18 degrees C but above 5 degrees C

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • high (>3%)
  • medium (1-3%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Soil texture is medium (Characterized mainly as sandy clay loam or clay loam)
Soil fertility is medium
Soil drainage/infiltration is medium
Soil water storage capacity is high

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

5-50 m

Availability of surface water:


Water quality (untreated):

for agricultural use only (irrigation)

Comments and further specifications on water quality and quantity:

Water quality (untreated): good drinking water, for agricultural use only (irrigation) (Brackish irrigation water)

5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • low

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Market orientation of production system:
  • commercial/ market
Off-farm income:
  • 10-50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • average
  • rich
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • men
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Land users applying the Technology are mainly common / average land users

Population density: 10-50 persons/km2

Annual population growth: 1% - 2%

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • small-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • individual, titled
Land use rights:
  • leased
  • individual
  • Cooperative
Water use rights:
  • communal (organized)
  • individual
  • Cooperative

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


crop production

Comments/ specify:

Due to increased soil organic matter

risk of production failure

Comments/ specify:

Because of the diseases control

Water availability and quality

demand for irrigation water

Income and costs

expenses on agricultural inputs

Comments/ specify:

Due to reduced fertilizers


Other socio-economic impacts

Improved livelihoods and human well-being


Socio-cultural impacts

SLM/ land degradation knowledge


Ecological impacts


soil moisture


nutrient cycling/ recharge




soil organic matter/ below ground C

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

biomass/ above ground C


pest/ disease control


6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season increase or decrease How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase well

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
local rainstorm well
Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought well

Various types of vegetation were tested in order to assess which is more tolerant to the high temperature conditions inside the greenhouse. Sorghum was chosen as the most tolerant and otherwise convenient cultivation.

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly negative

Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly negative

Long-term returns:

very positive

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

If available, quantify (no. of households and/ or area covered):


Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 91-100%

100% of land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

1 land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

Comments on spontaneous adoption: Only one land user in the region applies the technology.

There is no trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Use of organic manuring decreases the required amounts of fertilizers and pesticides, therefore leading to a net decrease of costs for agricultural inputs.
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Use of organic manuring decreases the required amounts of fertilizers and pesticides, therefore leading to a healthier soil in a sustainable way.

How can they be sustained / enhanced? The technology is self sustained.

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
The technology increases workload during a period where the greenhouse is otherwise inactive/fallow.
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Required machinery (branch grinder, tiller) are not used full-time so their purchase can't be easily justified. Machinery can be leased/rented

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

Links and modules

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