|Title||Soil Physical Quality of Citrus Orchards Under Tillage, Herbicide, and Organic Managements|
|Author(s)||Prima, Simone di; Rodrigo-Comino, Jesús; Novara, Agata; Iovino, Massimo; Pirastru, Mario; Keesstra, Saskia; Cerdà, Artemi|
|Source||Pedosphere 28 (2018)3. - ISSN 1002-0160 - p. 463 - 477.|
Alterra - Soil, water and land use
|Publication type||Refereed Article in a scientific journal|
|Keyword(s)||Beerkan estimation of soil transfer parameter - capacitive indicator - organic farming - soil management - soil quality assessment - structural stability index|
Soil capacity to support life and to produce economic goods and services is strongly linked to the maintenance of good soil physical quality (SPQ). In this study, the SPQ of citrus orchards was assessed under three different soil managements, namely no-tillage using herbicides, tillage under chemical farming, and no-tillage under organic farming. Commonly used indicators, such as soil bulk density, organic carbon content, and structural stability index, were considered in conjunction with capacitive indicators estimated by the Beerkan estimation of soil transfer parameter (BEST) method. The measurements taken at the L'Alcoleja Experimental Station in Spain yielded optimal values for soil bulk density and organic carbon content in 100% and 70% of cases for organic farming. The values of structural stability index indicated that the soil was stable in 90% of cases. Differences between the soil management practices were particularly clear in terms of plant-available water capacity and saturated hydraulic conductivity. Under organic farming, the soil had the greatest ability to store and provide water to plant roots, and to quickly drain excess water and facilitate root proliferation. Management practices adopted under organic farming (such as vegetation cover between the trees, chipping after pruning, and spreading the chips on the soil surface) improved the SPQ. Conversely, the conventional management strategies unequivocally led to soil degradation owing to the loss of organic matter, soil compaction, and reduced structural stability. The results in this study show that organic farming has a clear positive impact on the SPQ, suggesting that tillage and herbicide treatments should be avoided.