The Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences operates a research station of European importance in Szentgyörgyvár, Zala County.

The environmental and economic effects of conventional and conservation tillage at the research station can be studied under real-life conditions. The Szentgygyörgyvár Research Station was established in 2003, within the framework of an EU LIFE project (SOWAP). The station turned 20 in 2023. The longevity of the experiment, if not a curiosity, is of considerable value in itself. Unlike other European long-term experiments, in Szentgyörgyvár it is possible to monitor not only the soil condition and the crop (or plant nutrition parameters), but also the amount of soil loss and runoff water from the field, as well as physical and chemical parameters (nutrients, pesticides). The EU LIFE project came to an end in 2009.

Subsequently, SYNGENTA Hungary Ltd. provided the maintenance and operating costs, while HUN-REN Secretary will provide the funding in 2024.

Mission of the station


The dissemination of sustainable land use technologies helps to adapt to changing climatic conditions and weather extremes (water retention in cropland, reduction of soil erosion and nutrient loss, mitigation of flash floods), which, in addition to increasing crop security, also helps to protect infrastructure (e.g. highways, railways, etc.) and mitigate the increase of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere (carbon absorption in soils).

Located on the outskirts of Szentgyörgyvár in Zala County, the facility is designed to monitor the environmental impact of conservation agriculture. The research station is a rarity in Europe in terms of its size: it covers a total area of 1 ha, with four mechanised plots where the environmental and economic impacts of conventional and conservation (regeneartiv) agriculture can be studied.

Unlike other farm experiments, the Szentgyörgyvár Research Station is designed to collect all the soil loss and runoff from the plots, quantify their volume, and measure their physical and chemical properties. In addition to environmental parameters, income can be estimated from cultivation costs and harvested crops.

Our work in conservation agriculture research and education has been recognised by the European Landowners Association with the Land and Soil Management Award in 2022.

The research station's role in knowledge transfer

On average, ten field demonstrations are held at the Szentgyörgyvár Research Station each year. The total number of visitors in 2022 exceeded 3500 (farmers, university students, professional engineers, technical advisors, representatives of technical authorities, decision makers). There were many foreign farmers among the visitors of the station from France, Switzerland, Slovenia, Austria, and Ukraine. We have hosted three international conferences so far:


1st International Conference on Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Land Use



15th ISCO CONGRESS, International Soil Conservation Organization



4th International Congress of the ESSC, European Society for Soil Conservation


The Research Station in pictures

Experimental plots, two-channel collecting system, Collection tanks

Aerial view

Experimental plots of the Szentgyörgyvár Research Station. At the bottom of the plots the special two-channel collecting system can be seen.

Scheme and photo of the Szentgyörgyvár Research Station collection channel

Collection tanks of Szentgyörgyvár Research Station after runoff

Agricultural work: sowing and harvesting maize next to the collection channels



Selected publications from recent years


Nugroho, PA, Juhos, K, Prettl, N, Madarász, B, Kotroczó, Zs. 2023. Long-term conservation tillage results in a more balanced soil microbiological activity and higher nutrient supply capacity. INTERNATIONAL SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION RESEARCH 11. 528-537. DOI

Jakab, G, Vancsik, A, Filep, T, Madarász, B, Zacháry, D, Ringer, M, Ujházy, N, Szalai, Z. 2022. Soil organic matter characterisation using alkali and water extraction, and its relation to soil properties. GEODERMA REGIONAL 28. Paper: e00469 DOI

Madarász, B, Jakab, G, Szalai, Z, Juhos, K, Kotroczó, Zs, Tóth, A, Ladányi, M. 2021. Long-term effects of conservation tillage on soil erosion in Central Europe: A random forest-based approach. SOIL & TILLAGE RESEARCH 209. Paper: 104959. DOI

Jakab, G, Filep, T, Király, Cs, Madarász, B, Zacháry, D, Ringer, M, Vancsik, A, Gáspár, L, Szalai, Z. 2019. Differences in mineral phase associated soil organic matter composition due to varying tillage intensity. AGRONOMY 9. Paper: 9110700 DOI

Rieder, Á, Madarász, B, Szabó, JA, Zacháry, D, Vancsik, A, Ringer, M, Szalai, Z, Jakab, G. 2018. Soil organic matter alteration velocity due to land-use change : a case study under conservation agriculture. SUSTAINABILITY 10. Paper: 943. DOI

Madarász, B, Juhos, K, Ruszkiczay-Rüdiger, Zs, Benke, Sz, Jakab, G, Szalai, Z. 2016. Conservation tillage vs. conventional tillage: long-term effects on yields in continental, sub-humid Central Europe, Hungary. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURAL SUSTAINABILITY 14. 408-427. DOI


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