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Agroecological Practices and Agrobiodiversity: A Case Study on Organic Orange in Southern Italy

1
CREA-Research Centre for Agriculture and Environment, Via della Navicella 2-4, 00184 Rome, Italy
2
CREA-Research Centre for Plant Protection and Certification, Via C.G. Bertero 22, 00156 Rome, Italy
3
CREA-Research Centre for Olive, Citrus and Tree Fruit, Corso Savoia 190, 95024 Acireale, Italy
4
CREA-Research Center for Forestry and Woods, Viale Santa Margherita 80, 52100 Arezzo, Italy
5
CREA-Research Centre for Olive, Citrus and Tree Fruit, via la Canapona 1 bis, 47121 Forlì, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agronomy 2019, 9(2), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9020085
Received: 27 December 2018 / Revised: 5 February 2019 / Accepted: 11 February 2019 / Published: 14 February 2019
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Abstract

The integration of Agroecological Service Crops (ASCs) into agroecosystems can provide several ecological services, such as nutrient cycling and disease and weed management. A two-year experiment on an organic orchard was carried out to compare barley (B) and horse bean (HB) ASCs with a control without ASC (Cont) in combination with fertilizers. Their effects on soil fertility and weed- and soil-borne fungi communities were evaluated by direct measurements, visual estimation, and indicators computation. A Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was used to identify latent patterns and redundancy among variables, whereas a correlation analysis was used to discriminate the compared systems within the PCA matrix. The empirical results of this study put in evidence the correlation among soil, weed, and fungal variables. A slight contribution of fertilizers on the system’s variability was observed, whereas a clear effect of ASCs was highlighted. The systems differed in weed communities, with the lowest density associated to B and the highest to Cont. B showed the highest fungal diversity, with changes in community compared to HB. HB showed a contribution on soil fertility, being associated to organic matter increase and N availability, and evidencing mixed impacts on soil quality and ecosystem functioning. Overall, the above-ground diversity and below-ground community results were inter-correlated. View Full-Text
Keywords: cover crop; species richness; ecology of interaction; multivariate statistics cover crop; species richness; ecology of interaction; multivariate statistics
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Ciaccia, C.; La Torre, A.; Ferlito, F.; Testani, E.; Battaglia, V.; Salvati, L.; Roccuzzo, G. Agroecological Practices and Agrobiodiversity: A Case Study on Organic Orange in Southern Italy. Agronomy 2019, 9, 85.

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