The general objective of the proposed research is to evaluate alternatives to current agricultural systems that confer adaptation to the agro-ecological conditions that are changing in agricultural landscapes due to increased rainfall variability under climate change, based on
1) In-depth understanding of the ecological processes that are important for water and nutrient use efficiency. We propose that trait-based understanding of the influence of the vegetation and the soil biota on plant litter and soil organic matter will allow farmers to manage ecosystem services for adaptation to climate-induced changes in drought and rainfall frequencies and intensities. Obviously, the crops and other plant species that constitute current agricultural landscapes vary across Europe. By focussing on the relevant traits, trait combinations and trait attributes rather than species, the acquired knowledge will be generic, and ultimately applicable to different agro-ecological conditions.
2) The feasibility of proposed alternatives assessed from stakeholder interactions. Depending on whether water deficit or surplus situations will become more prevalent under climate change, management of soil organic matter for higher water drainage vs. water storage will be more important. Stakeholder interactions will be instrumental in yielding tailor-made management options across Europe.