Urban areas
Plužiny – Gentle agriculture in Prague Foto: Vojta Herout, www.vojtaherout.com

Plužiny – Gentle agriculture in Prague

The best project on the territory of the capital city of Prague 2020

Six-hectare field on the outskirts of Prague. In summer, the Sun makes it so incredibly hot, most of the year it is bare. A place that is not tempting to walk through and where the quality of agricultural land is not a priority. And that is exactly what they decided to change at the Department of Nature Protection of the City of Prague. They divided the single field with fruit trees into smaller long fields, where crops began to alternate and where no chemical treatment or fertilizer is used. After harvest, the crops grown there go to local kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, retirement homes or orphanages. In addition, the more diverse landscape, shaded by trees, gives locals a place for nice walks.

The Adaptation Journey

 
The positive impact
A city the size of Prague, of course, is facing negative effects of the heat island. The conversion of 6 hectares of agricultural land in Dolní Počernice should help mitigate these effects. Trees planted in the agricultural land will prevent the surface of the field from heating up to high temperatures, and their crowns will also reduce wind flow. Both will have a positive effect on reducing evaporation. A diverse mosaic of cultivated crops and more suitably set sowing procedures guarantee that during the year there will always be only a part of the whole field without vegetation cover - another step to reduce evaporation and increase water retention in the landscape.

The project is part of the overall adjustment of management of agricultural land owned by the Capital City of Prague. The City terminated its leases in 2019 and switched to organic farming on all its agricultural land. Plužiny are an example of one such field that proves that this is the right thing to do.
 
How does it work?
A field of 6 hectares, where until the autumn of 2018 only one crop used to be grown on the entire area, was divided by rows of fruit trees of various species into several elongated fields, traditionally called 'Plužiny'. A mixture of clover and grass was sown on one part of the area, a part bloomed in purple coved with purple tansy, there were pumpkins, courgettes, and beets. During 2019, the city grew the crops on new fields without using and chemicals, including fertilizers.

Rows of trees are placed perpendicularly to the road, which serves as a promenade for the local community. During 2020, rows of trees will be supplemented by shrubs. All fruits from approximately 250 fruit trees and shrubs are freely available to the public.
 
Original state
The site was originally a uniform six-hectare field, where wheat, rapeseed or corn were grown every year.
 
Operation and maintenance
Future maintenance lies in regular farming, which is paid for by the tenant - the farmer who farms here according to the contract.

Crowns will be pruned on the tall trunks of fruit trees. The costs of tree treatment and watering for the first three years will be covered by the Department of Environmental Protection of the City of Prague. It will be about 100 thousand CZK (3785 EUR) a year.

From 2022 when the watering will end, the city council should not pay any money for the project. If the crowns of fruit trees still need pruning, it will not cost more than a couple of thousand CZK a year.
 
Obstacles and challenges
Dividing the field into smaller parts and the varied composition of the cultivated crops was met with surprisingly great public enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, some of the vegetables grown here get stolen.
 
How much did it cost?
The cost of the project is so far estimated at half a million czech crowns (18.923 EUR). It was paid for by the Department of Environmental Protection of the City of Prague.

The investor did not expect a financial return. It is balanced by the ecological value of new habitats. With continuous care, a long service life can be expected.

Agriculture landscape Biodiverzita Vlny horka a tepelný ostrov Extrémní vítr Eroze půdy 

Locality:
Prague-Dolní Počernice, Czech Republic
Timeframe:
2018 – to date
Author:
Jiří Rom
Contractor:
Miloš Král
Investor:
The city of Prague
Contact:
Jiří Rom
jiri.romhaha.@praha.eu
„The planted trees will protect the crops from wind and strong sunlight, which will reduce evaporation. This is a successful and promising project which can be a good example for municipalities and other owners of agricultural land of how to manage agricultural land to increase water retention, increase its quality (structure, amount of organic matter, soil organisms) and to protect the crops grown here from the extreme weather.“
RNDr. Jakub Horecký, Ph.D.
The expert jury member

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