Iocola, Ileana (2017) Past experience supports future choices for cropping systems management: the Italian long-term agro-ecosystem experiments (LTAEs) through the IC-FAR network. Doctoral Thesis.
The research project IC-FAR (www.icfar.it) was designed with the idea to ensure continuity to the Italian long-term agroecosystem experiments (LTAEs) and evaluate if the old LTAEs, designed many years ago, can provide opportunities to address nowadays agronomic research questions and challenges. This PhD thesis was entirely developed in the IC-FAR framework. The work is divided into two chapters which represent two different scientific papers. In the first chapter, a recursive partitioning analysis was used to explore how long term tillage practices, N fertilization rate and their interaction with meteorological factors can explain the crop inter-annual yield variability in a cereal two-year rotation under rainfed Mediterranean conditions. In the second chapter the long-term effects of different tillage management practices on SOC stock dynamics were assessed in some rainfed cereal cropping systems under current and future climate scenarios using the IC-FAR datasets and an ensemble of crop models. The different methodologies used in this thesis have underlined the relevance and opportunities that LTAEs can provide in understanding the processes controlling agroecosystem long term dynamics. Furthermore LTAEs have also showed to be an invaluable source of information for cropping system modelling approaches, as they allow a robust calibration of model simulations of the long-term sustainability of cropping systems.
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