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Title: Organic mulching, irrigation and fertilization affect soil CO2 emission and C storage in tomato crop in the Mediterranean environment
Authors: Mancinelli, Roberto 
Marinari, Sara 
Brunetti, Paola
Radicetti, Emanuele
Campiglia, Enio 
Issue Date: 2015
Carbon stock and CO2 emissions in agricultural systems are highly affected by the
management of applied practices in arable farms, such as fertilizer use, irrigation, soil tillage, cover
crop management, etc. This study evaluated the effects of various organic mulches, nitrogen
fertilization and irrigation levels on soil CO2 fluxes, soil carbon sequestration and processing tomato
production in the Mediterranean environment. The field experiment was carried out with five main
treatments, three cover crops of hairy vetch (HV), lacy phacelia (LF) and white mustard (WM)
transplanted in autumn and cut in May to be used as mulches, plus barley straw mulch (BS) and
conventional (C). After tomato transplanting, the main plots were split into two nitrogen fertilization
treatments (0 and 100 kg N ha-1) and the sub-plots were then split again into three irrigation levels
(irrigation water 100%, 75%, 50% of evapotranspiration). In all treatments, a general effect was
observed in the temporal fluctuations of soil CO2 emissions throughout the observation period which
were significantly influenced by soil temperature and water content. The temporal fluctuations of the
soil CO2 fluxes were attributed to climatic conditions and the peaks achieved optimal conditions of soil
temperature and water content for soil respiration. A polynomial regression model highlighted the
best conditions of soil temperature and water content in the various treatments in comparison (21.5 °C
as average in BS, C and HV, and 18.3 °C in WM; soil water content of 28% as average in BS, C and HV,
55% in WM, and 87% in LP). A larger amount of TOC was observed in the mulching treatments than in
the control after tomato harvesting, probably due to the residual biomass of the cover crops and a
greater growth of the tomato. Although the soil carbon output as cumulated CO2 emissions did not
show statistically significant differences between the treatments, the soil carbon balance enabled us to
estimate the highest net carbon contribution to the soil in HV determined by inputs and input/output
ratio. However, except for the BS in 2013, the input/output ratios were >1 in all mulch treatments. In
the Mediterranean environment, agronomical practices, such as the use of hairy vetch mulch on notilled
soil, a slight reduction of irrigation water (-25%) and a rationalized use of N fertilizer potentially
could shift the C balance in favor of soil C accumulation
ISSN: 0167-1987
DOI: 10.1016/j.still.2015.04.001
Appears in Collections:A1. Articolo in rivista

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