FCT

R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Ciências Agrárias

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Pedologia [AGR-LVT-Lisboa-244] visitada em 18/01/2008

Classificação: Fair

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
Goals, ongoing and planned projects, strategic development in the future.
Soil science is a very important basic discipline as a research theme in itself and as the basis for other production, environmentally or planning oriented disciplines and applications. Both for National and international reasons, there is a need for Portugal to have strong expertise in the area of soil science. This is especially the case in a situation when the soil survey of Portugal apparently is incomplete.
The evaluation panel recognizes that there has been a reorganization of CP resulting in two research groups within the unit instead of four. Potentially, this could contribute to better research environments above critical mass. However, during our visit at CP, we did not see signs of this, and the panel has serious reservations as to the ability of CP with its present management structure to lift the scientific and organizational obligation of a national soil science laboratory.
This is based on our reading of research groups´ and unit’s reports and on the site visit and the presentations given. The reports of the research groups show fair to good productivity. The panel’s reservations are based on a seemingly lack of initiative at the unit, e.g. concerning national soil mapping. We also found a lack of ability to perspectivate the role of soil science in relation to other scientific disciplines and in relation to production, environment and planning matters. Finally, we lacked the perspectives of CP in cooperating with other centers and institutes.
The panel strongly recommends pursuing the possibility of CP to merge with other research groups or environments to establish a research environment above critical mass and revitalize the management and organization of soil science in Portugal.

Training of young researchers and students
Fair

Organization of workshops
Fair

Interdisciplinary activities
Fair

Interactions with other national and international research units and companies
Fair

Participation in international research programmes (EU etc.)
Fair

Knowledge and technology transfer
Fair

Outreach activities
Fair

Attitude and work environment
Fair

Most pertinent comments and recommendations
The panel strongly recommends pursuing the possibility of CP to merge with other research groups or environments to establish a research environment above critical mass and revitalize the management and organization of soil science in Portugal.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
MICROCLIMATE AND SOIL PROCESSES (MICROS) [RG-X-AGR-LVT-Lisboa-244-2816]
How will the merging with other groups be planned and performed?
Will environmental aspects be included in the scope?
Who will be the major stakeholders of the group’s research?
This is a very small group - with medium to good performance.
This is a very small research group with six researchers focusing on the impact of microclimate on soil processes and soil water regimes. The group has been undertaken a significant private-sector research contract indicating the importance of the expertise for the insurance sector. The group has a fairly good training record with 4 PhD and 1 MSc theses.
What will be the future research orientation of the expertise now built in the group?
Soil and water management and ecosystems sustainability-SWMES [RG-AGR-LVT-Lisboa-244-2955]
The group studies soil and water processes related to sustainable production of e.g. grapes and Eucalyptus in view of optimization of nutrient cycles, grazing systems. Research seems to be relevant, though cooperation with other could support goals better. Data on scientific output were missing, as well as on networking and training results though the site visit enabled us to receive missing data partly.

Research objectives were phrased in very general term, though elaborated these became clearer and fairly relevant (soil management issues in e.g. vineyards, prevention soil erosion, carbon storage, soil regeneration.

Scientific productivity in books and papers were moderate, as well as training results. National and international cooperation is moderate. Also here the atmosphere and leadership within the RG could use more ambition.
Soil management and sustainability of forestry and agroforestry systems - SUSTAINFOR [RG-X-AGR-LVT-Lisboa-244-2912]
The group is not describing any future research. The guess is that the group will progress with the research related with the sustainable development of the agroforestry systems the group is well balanced from personnel point of view - 8 PhDs and 2 non PhDs
The funding so far is related with 7 projects with average support of 23,000 € per project
The objectives could be given much more clearly.
Only 3 publications wit average IF of 0.9 are given. The so-called other publications are presented into “Revista de Ciencias Agrárias” 2004 and 2005.As a whole this productivity is not satisfactory one. Only two of the PhDs of the group are involved into the publications.
Master of Science and PhDs thesis are satisfying the needed criteria
The involvement of the group into the organization of conferences and into the international cooperation is relatively week.
Soil Processes and Environmental Quality - SPEQy [RG-AGR-LVT-Lisboa-244-2805]

This group carries out soil studies on processes and patterns related to environment and ecosystem sustainability. Data before site visit were lacking on productivity, networking, and training. Some explanation was given on future research indicating mostly relevant research. The site visit gave the opportunity to receive more, though partly inadequate information. The Rg formulated two research limes: 1. fill considerable gaps on the nature and distribution of soils in Portugal and 2.optimize the use of land (from pedological expertise), which are relevant enough. It showed that a serious lack of basic data (maps with sufficient resolution and quality), soil samples and analyses occurs. This hampers soil studies, environmental assessments as well as many other agricultural, forestry and ecological studies. Though a supervision role on soil mapping and studies is the task of the group/unit their interpretation is far too modest. The productivity of papers and books is also modest, as well as training results. Overall the spirit of the group and leadership could use rejuvenation and ambition.
The group is working in a very relevant area of research - but too little information is available to give an evaluation of its performance.
Will it be included in plans for merging of groups in view of its rather small size?
It is recommended that environmental matters are included in a broader scope of the center’s research strategy.
Soil Processes in Space and Time: Evolution, Behaviour and Remediation (PROSOIL) [RG-X-AGR-LVT-Lisboa-244-2794]
This is a rather small group of 10 scientists focusing on soil geology, soil type formation and soil behaviour in Portugal. The group has participated at EU-level COST action networking which has had a significant impact on the output (especially the year 2003 paper in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta with a high number of citations). However, the number of externally funded projects has been rather modest. The group does not report on industry-related contracts. As the training output the group reports 4 MSc and 1 PhD theses, which is a fairly low outcome for the time interval of five years.
The group is rather small - the productivity is quite good.
How will the cooperation with the other groups be planned in view of merging of groups?
What will be the strategic goals?
How will environmental aspects be covered?
What are the plans for technology transfer and dissemination of knowledge to farmers and society?
Water Management and Sustainable Production of Sugar Beet and Eucalyptus (WATERMAN) [RG-X-AGR-LVT-Lisboa-244-2798]
This group is a one-man-affair (1 PhD!) and will disappear as such. Main interest is water management / tillage related to crop production (sugar beet, tree species) this “group” is however very productive in (other than journal) publications. Training is sufficient (3 masters); networking and cooperation is good. The researcher deserves compliments, though reorganization decisions are logical.
The research group consists of one person and will be closed from 2008. As far as the number of groups will be reduced the research topics will be passed and implied in the researches of a new group with more integrated and multidisciplinary character of investigations.
The researches aim at better understanding of the environmental impacts of different agricultural techniques for soil tillage and irrigation and at better environmental quality. With this regard these research directions need more scientists engaged. Impressive productivity and training results - a very good job done by 1 researcher!