Soil structure degradation, declining soil organic matter and nutrient losses are among major drawbacks of continuous conventional tillage with large-scale environmental consequences including decreasing soil productivity, groundwater contamination and greenhouse gases emissions. This becomes especially true in conventionally-tilled Mediterranean croplands which are also affected by severe climatic conditions. In this study, a one-year field experiment was carried out to investigate the impact of different tillage practices on the soil fertility status in two tree orchards (olive, citrus) soils with contrasting texture (clay, sandy loam), carbonate content (non-calcareous, slightly calcareous) and pH (strongly acid, slightly alkaline), located in Southern Italy. Treatments included in this study were conventional tillage, conventional tillage combined with the incorporation of solid anaerobic digestate, and no-tillage. Changes in the aggregate stability and dynamics of various C and N pools were assessed by monitoring a large set of physical (aggregate stability index), chemical (pH, electrical conductivity, total organic C, total N, nitrate-N, ammonium-N, total soluble N, extractable organic N), biochemical (microbial biomass C and N, basal respiration, potentially mineralizable N) and eco-physiological (microbial and metabolic quotients, mineralization coefficient) soil variables. Results showed that the stability of soil aggregates declined under conventional tillage, remained unaltered under no-tillage, improved after digestate amendment. Moreover, following incorporation of digestate large and long-lasting increase of the organic pool, microbial C-use efficiency and release of soluble C and N forms were observed in the fine-textured soil. Whereas opposite responses were found in the moderately coarse alkaline soil, where incorporation of digestate stimulated C resources depletion, microbial respiration and N losses due to ammonia volatilization with less beneficial effects on soil organic pools. On the other hand, no-tillage prevented soil C and N resources from over-exploitation (as observed in conventionally-tilled soils) with greater beneficial effects on microbial C-use efficiency and biomass found in the coarse than in the fine-textured soil. Our findings suggest that improved management practices such as no-tillage or conventional tillage combined with incorporation of solid anaerobic digestate should specifically deal with soil and climate conditions to became effective for restoring the fertility status in Mediterranean orchard soils.
|Titolo:||Use of solid anaerobic digestate and no-tillage practice for restoring the fertility status of two Mediterranean orchard soils with contrasting properties|
GELSOMINO, Antonio (Corresponding)
|Data di pubblicazione:||2020|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|
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