Caraffini, Stefano (2017) Sustainability and long-term nutrients flows in conventional and low-input globe artichoke cropping systems. Doctoral Thesis.
Globe artichoke cultivation causes high nitrogen (N) balance surpluses. The planning and cropping of sustainable systems (with no mineral fertilizer supply) can contribute to the reduction of the nutrients surplus. The research hypothesis was that artichoke conventional system may be shifted to a sustainable one, by means of building-fertility crops use and rotation. In the present work three different management systems, conventional (continuous monoculture with chemical fertilizers use), alternative monoculture (continuous monoculture with introduction of a short-cycle legume catch-crop and without chemical fertilizers supply) and biannual rotation (globe artichoke in a biannual rotation with cauliflower without chemical fertilizers supply and with cover-crop use) were compared over a ten years period. Soil initial and final conditions were monitored. Nitrogen, P, and K gross balances, for each growing season, were calculated and, also, soil respiration over the last two growing seasons were monitored. Results show that soil total N content was significantly higher in alternative monoculture and biannual rotation than conventional systems. Planning a biannual rotation and introducing a legume cover-crop species were more beneficial for a well-balanced N budget with respect to conventional (N surplus), and alternative monoculture (N deficit). The mean seasonal CO2 emissions increased significantly with residues return. Overall, globe artichoke traditional systems may highly benefit of rotation with another crop (e.g. cauliflower). The results, also, suggest that introducing legume species as catch- and cover-crops is the most promising approach to foster sustainability.
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