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Land and Water Management Laboratory

The Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Laboratory (SWMCN Laboratory) of the Joint FAO/IAEA Centre of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture, which is located at Seibersdorf, 35 km south of Vienna, plays a key role in the implementation of the Soil and Water Management & Crop Nutrition (SWMCN) Subprogramme. The SWMCN Laboratory assists in the development and transfer of robust and affordable nuclear techniques to Member States to optimise soil, water and nutrient management practices and strategies that enhance sustainable agriculture, with a high resilience to climate change, and contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from farmlands.

With an increasing focus in Member States to enhance the efficient use of soil and water resources and improve the ecosystem services of these, there are significant shifts in the use of isotope and nuclear techniques from a field plot approach to an area-wide scale. The development and adaptation of new robust and cheaper isotope and nuclear techniques allow scientists and technicians to effectively measure changes in soil and water quantity and quality at a range of scales (field plot to catchment scales).

The SWMCN Laboratory provides a broad range of following services:

  • Develop and validate isotope and nuclear techniques for the use in Coordinated Research Projects (CRPs) and Technical Cooperation Projects (TCPs). About ten isotopic and nuclear techniques have been developed or adapted in the SWMCN Laboratory over the last 50 years, which are now well established across the world.
  • Train technical staff and scientists from Member States in the analyses of isotopes and the use of nuclear and related techniques to develop improved and integrated soil-nutrient-water-plant management practices.
  • Provide isotope analyses to projects where analytical facilities are not available.
  • Provide quality assurance services to Member States.

The SWMCN Laboratory has a modern laboratory and equipment to provide the following support:

  • Identify farm management factors affecting fertiliser and water use efficiency in both rainfed and irrigated agriculture,
  • Quantify contribution of organic sources to crop nutrition and biological nitrogen fixation,
  • Assess the effectiveness of soil and water conservation strategies in controlling soil erosion and improving water quantity and quality.

The Laboratory produces an Annual Report which is available for downloading together with the biannual Newsletter on the Sub-Programme's present and future activities.

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