Agricultural activities through conventional and intensive practices contribute to climate change by increasing emission of reactive carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) from soils to the atmosphere. Minimum soil disturbance, appropriate residue management and cover cropping as conservation practices are perceived as key strategies to limit GHGs emissions by increasing soil C and N sequestration as soil organic matter (SOM), thus promoting soil aggregation and enhancing soil fertility. Yet, the actual contribution of conservation practices to C and N sequestration, as well as mechanisms behind chemical and biochemical stabilization of SOM in the long-term are still controversial. In the present 9-year field study on a wheat-maize-soybean rotation we investigated the effect of no-till (NT) coupled with grass vs. legume cover crop (i.e., rye [Secale cereale L., NT-R] or hairy vetch [Vicia villosa Roth, NT-V]) on main crop yields, C and N input by cover and main crops, soil aggregation and C and N sequestration rates, in comparison with conventional tillage (CT). We hypothesized that NT-R may lead to higher biomass input, C sequestration and comparable yield to CT, while NT-V may increase N input, N sequestration and lead to comparable yield to CT. We found that yield of winter wheat, maize, and soybean were never reduced under both NT treatments, neither during the transition phase, nor afterwards. Rye and hairy vetch provided the same amount of biomass and C input, although vetch doubled N input compared with rye. Moreover NT-V increased cumulative biomass and C input from main crop residues compared with NT-R. Both NT-R and NT-V promoted C (+0.4 Mg ha−1 y−1 and +0.6 Mg ha−1 y−1, respectively) and N (+88 kg ha−1 y−1 and +145 kg ha−1 y−1, respectively) soil sequestration, mainly due to the increase of macroaggregate-associated C and N, thus corroborating a major role of NT for macroaggregates formation and SOM stabilization within macroaggregates. Since no difference was found between cover crops in terms of biomass input, and C and N sequestration potential, we concluded that cover crop biomass production (rather than biomass quality) and retention onto the soil as residue were the main drivers of soil C and N sequestration. Therefore, both rye and hairy vetch may be combined with NT and promise significant potential as effective C farming practices.

Ardenti, F., Capra, F., Lommi, M., Fiorini, A., Tabaglio, V., Long-term C and N sequestration under no-till is governed by biomass production of cover crops rather than differences in grass vs. legume biomass quality, <<SOIL & TILLAGE RESEARCH>>, 2022; 228 (N/A): 105630-N/A. [doi:10.1016/j.still.2022.105630] [https://hdl.handle.net/10807/223450]

Long-term C and N sequestration under no-till is governed by biomass production of cover crops rather than differences in grass vs. legume biomass quality

Ardenti, Federico;Capra, Federico;Fiorini, Andrea;Tabaglio, Vincenzo
2023

Abstract

Agricultural activities through conventional and intensive practices contribute to climate change by increasing emission of reactive carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) from soils to the atmosphere. Minimum soil disturbance, appropriate residue management and cover cropping as conservation practices are perceived as key strategies to limit GHGs emissions by increasing soil C and N sequestration as soil organic matter (SOM), thus promoting soil aggregation and enhancing soil fertility. Yet, the actual contribution of conservation practices to C and N sequestration, as well as mechanisms behind chemical and biochemical stabilization of SOM in the long-term are still controversial. In the present 9-year field study on a wheat-maize-soybean rotation we investigated the effect of no-till (NT) coupled with grass vs. legume cover crop (i.e., rye [Secale cereale L., NT-R] or hairy vetch [Vicia villosa Roth, NT-V]) on main crop yields, C and N input by cover and main crops, soil aggregation and C and N sequestration rates, in comparison with conventional tillage (CT). We hypothesized that NT-R may lead to higher biomass input, C sequestration and comparable yield to CT, while NT-V may increase N input, N sequestration and lead to comparable yield to CT. We found that yield of winter wheat, maize, and soybean were never reduced under both NT treatments, neither during the transition phase, nor afterwards. Rye and hairy vetch provided the same amount of biomass and C input, although vetch doubled N input compared with rye. Moreover NT-V increased cumulative biomass and C input from main crop residues compared with NT-R. Both NT-R and NT-V promoted C (+0.4 Mg ha−1 y−1 and +0.6 Mg ha−1 y−1, respectively) and N (+88 kg ha−1 y−1 and +145 kg ha−1 y−1, respectively) soil sequestration, mainly due to the increase of macroaggregate-associated C and N, thus corroborating a major role of NT for macroaggregates formation and SOM stabilization within macroaggregates. Since no difference was found between cover crops in terms of biomass input, and C and N sequestration potential, we concluded that cover crop biomass production (rather than biomass quality) and retention onto the soil as residue were the main drivers of soil C and N sequestration. Therefore, both rye and hairy vetch may be combined with NT and promise significant potential as effective C farming practices.
Inglese
Ardenti, F., Capra, F., Lommi, M., Fiorini, A., Tabaglio, V., Long-term C and N sequestration under no-till is governed by biomass production of cover crops rather than differences in grass vs. legume biomass quality, <<SOIL & TILLAGE RESEARCH>>, 2022; 228 (N/A): 105630-N/A. [doi:10.1016/j.still.2022.105630] [https://hdl.handle.net/10807/223450]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10807/223450
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