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Bulgaria ISSNP

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Logo ISSNP  Full Name of Organisation: Institute of Soil Science “Nikola Poushkarov”

Legal Status: Research Institute

Address: 7, Shosse Bankya str., Sofia 1080

Contact Person: Assoc. Prof. DSc. Zornitsa Popova


Brief description of the organization

The Institute of Soil Science “Nikola Poushkarov” is a research institute within the structure of Agricultural Academy (AA), developing scientific, applied and extension service activities in the field of soil science, agroecology, agriculture and environmental protection. The Institute was founded in 1947 and named after the prominent Bulgarian scientist Nikola Poushkarov. The Institute possesses the richest soil and agrochemical information relative to the entire country’s territory obtained as a result of the active 62-year monitoring and research activities.

The Institute consists of 8 scientific departments, central laboratory, accredited laboratory on radioecology and radioisotope studies, specialized departmental laboratories, and 24 experimental fields. The staff of the Institute consists of 189 people, including 13 professors, 3 doctors of science, 64 associated professors, 12 research assistants.

The major scientific priorities of the Institute are:

  • Genesis, diagnostics, classification and geography of soils.
  • Soil formation processes, soil cartography and methodology for large-scale and small-scale soil survey, introducing catena as a basic method for soil mapping and terrain studies, evaluation of the agro-ecological potential of the country.
  • Physical, water and mechanical properties of soils, soil mineralogical composition, the humus and its role in soil formation and soil fertility, sorption capacity and chemical amelioration.
  • Content, forms and balance of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in soil. Microelements and micro-fertilization.
  • Microbiological and enzyme processes in soil depending on soil type, agro-techniques and stress factors.
  • Systems of agriculture. Optimization of soil tillage, crop rotation and irrigation practices as factors of soil fertility and sustainable agriculture.
  • Monitoring of soil erosion by water and wind, technologies for soil erosion control and remediation of eroded and degraded lands.
  • Studies of soils of limited soil fertility (pedogenetics, degradation processes, heavy metals, organic contaminants, radionuclides, pesticides, herbicides, etc.).
  • Simulation modeling of agro-ecosystems, incl. water/nitrogen balance of cropped soil, crop productivity, ground water pollution, irrigation scheduling and methods for good agricultural practices.
  • Technologies for utilization of industrial and agricultural waste in agriculture.

The main scientific priorities of the Department of Soil Physics are:

  • Soil physical properties. Indicators for soil physical status: soil physical degradation and soil compaction; soil drought; surface soil waterlogging;
  • Measurement and assessment of parameters of soil-crop-atmosphere system;
  • Soil water and heat balances. Radiation characteristics of soils and plant cover;
  • Physiological and physical indicators for water and temperature stress of plants;
  • Specialized soil-crop-climate databases for modeling and analyses of agroecological and productivity risks;
  • Calibration, validation and use of crop growth and irrigation scheduling simulation models for optimization of management practices and risk assessment related to climate variability/change;
  • Water saving and environmentally oriented methods of irrigation (surge furrow irrigation, alternative furrow irrigation/fertilization);
  • Impact of furrow irrigation non-uniformity and efficiency on yield, water and nitrogen losses in the scale of the field.

Experience in international projects relative to the theme

  • European project MARS MERA for Remote Sensing Applications of JRC, ISPRA, 1992-1998;
  • Evaluation of risk and monitoring of nitrogen and pesticides fluxes at the crop level under Bulgarian and Romanian Danube plain situation, IC15CT96-0101, FP4, EU, INRA, Unite Enveronnement et Grandes Cultures- Thiverval-Grignon, France, 1997- 1999, BG coordinator - Assoc. Prof. DSc. Z. Popova;
  • Agroecological aspects of surface irrigation, COCOP 2003, EU, 2003-2004, CEMAGREF, Unite d’irrigation, Monpellier, France, BG coordinator- Assoc. Prof. DSc. Z.Popova;
  • Impact of joint practices of irrigation, and fertilization on agro-environmental performances in the case of bi-dimensional transfer (surface irrigation and micro-irrigation), ECONET 2004-2005, CEMAGREF, Unite d’irrigation, Monpellier, France, BG coordinator- Assoc. Prof. DSc. Z.Popova;
  • Protection and management of Natural Recourses, The Goulandris Natural History Museum, Greece, 2004- 2006, BG coordinator- Assoic. Prof. Dr. V.Koutev;
  • NATO, INVOTAN program, project: “Effect of land management, soil and climate on productivity and environment in Bulgaria”, Experienced scientist fellowship of Assoc. Prof. DSc. Zornitsa Popova, 2004-2005, Department of Rural Engineering, High Institute of Agronomy, Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal (UTL).
  • Floods and other region weather-driven natural hazards-Prediction and Mitigation (WDNH); Soil Data Bulgaria, 2005- 2007, European Commission – Directorate General JRC, ISPRA,  BG coordinator- Assoc. Prof. Dr. M. Kercheva;
  • ENVironmental ASsessment of Soil Monitoring (ENVASSO), Sixth Framework Program, 2006- 2008, BG coordinator - Prof. N.Kolev, Dr.Sci.
  • Policy incentives for climate change mitigation techniques (PICCMAT), FP6, 2007- 2008, BG coordinator- Prof. Dr. Svetla Rousseva
  • Soil sustainability in Europe as deduced from investigation of the Critical Zone (SoilCritZone), FP6, 2007- 2008, BG coordinator- Prof. Dr. Svetla Rousseva
  • Assessment and strategic development of INSPIRE compliant Geodata-Services for European Soil Data (GS SOIL ECP-2008-GEO-318004), 2009-2012, contact person - Assoc. Prof. Dr. Milena Kercheva

Role in the DMCSEE Project

ISSNP is responsible for the following tasks:

  • 3.2.3 Establishment of irrigation scheduling system
    Report on developement and implementation of irrigation scheduling system by project participants (ISSNP develop the system, project partners use it and report).
  • 4.2.2. Drought vulnerability estimates based on simulations using crop-yield models
    ISSNP will prepare report including drought vulnerability estimates based on simulations using crop-yield models. (ISSNP prepares basis and map for whole SEE region, partner prepares map for its own region)

ISSNP will assist EARS and GEORAMA in realization of communication and dissemination plan. ISSNP will deliver press release and articles, attend at conferences and make presentations of project

ISSNP with NIMH will organize National seminar for end users (farmers, water utilities, hydro energy sector etc.)

ISSNP will participate at training seminars.

Last years specializations of participants:

Several post-doctoral training on calibration, modification and use of CERES-maize and CERES-wheat models took part in INRA, Unité de recherche en Bioclimatologie, Grignon, France within the period 1998-2000. For that purpose field data from experiments carried out in lysimeter and plot scale, Sofia field, were used. Experiments included detailed measurements of climate data, soil water content and pressure head, mineral nitrogen content, deep percolation and nitrogen leaching at the bottom of lysimeters, management operation (incl. irrigation depths and timing) and observation of crop development and dry matter accumulation.

Latter on studies were carried out and are still going on validation of irrigation scheduling simulation models (CROPWAT and WINISAREG) under the conditions Sofia field and Stara Zagora region. This study is in cooperation with Prof.L.S.Pereira and his team from UTL. Long-term historical data from field experiments and references are used for that. Research on variability of crop water uptake, irrigation requirements, crop productivity, ground water supply and nitrogen leaching associated with climate uncertainties, soil type and land use scenarios are in full run.

Key studies of participants:

Furrow irrigation - Distribution, uniformity and efficiency in applying water; Modeling on water and nitrogen transfer/losses; Environment-friendly and water saving techniques (surge irrigation and alternative furrow irrigation); Yield, water and nitrogen losses for a nonhomogenous furrow set (40-100 furrows) in different agrolandscapes;

Monitoring of water and nitrogen budget in plot, lysimeter and field scale;

Impact of joint practices of irrigation and fertilization on agro-environmental performances in the case of bi-dimensional transfer (HYDRUS 2D model)

Calibration and validation of simulation models of crop growth and environment (CERES-maize and CERES-wheat) and irrigation scheduling and yield impacts of water stress (WINISAREG and CROPWAT);

Validation of the FAO methodology (Allen et al., 1996) for computing reference evapotranspiration ETo with limited data to South Bulgaria;

Use of validated models for scenario and risk assessment analysis relative to impacts of climate uncertainty on agriculture, water management, irrigation scheduling and environment;

Zornitsa Popva (1990). "Water application efficiency in surface irrigation" Ph.D. thesis. Univ.of Archit.Civ.Eng.and Geodesy, Sofia. (In Bulgarian).

Zornitsa Popva (2009) “Optimization of irrigation scheduling, yields and their environmental impacts by crop models ”Doctor of Science Thesis, Specialised Sci.Counc.on Soil Sci., Agro-chem. And General Agr.,Higher Testim.Board, Sofia. (In Bulgarian).

Milena Kercheva (2004) “Information basis for modeling components of soil water balance and assessment of agroecological risks”. Ph.D. Thesis, N. Poushkarov Institute of soil science, Sofia. (In Bulgarian).

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