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Diversified Arable Cropping Systems and Management Schemes in Selected European Regions Have Positive Effects on Soil Organic Carbon Content

Research Centre for Agriculture and Environment, Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA), 00184 Rome, Italy
Estación Experimental de Aula Dei, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), 50059 Zaragoza, Spain
Soil Physics and Land Management Department, Wageningen University (WUR), 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE), 31600 Jokioinen, Finland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agriculture 2019, 9(12), 261;
Received: 6 November 2019 / Revised: 9 December 2019 / Accepted: 10 December 2019 / Published: 12 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Fertility)
In the last few decades, various crop diversification strategies and management practices have been promoted to improve or at least maintain environmental quality and agroecosystem services. We conducted a data-analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of alternatives for crop diversification and environmentally friendly farming management for arable crops in four selected European pedoclimatic regions and typical cropping systems in the Atlantic, Boreal, Mediterranean North, and Mediterranean South regions. The dataset was retrieved from 38 references and included data on site-specific environmental conditions, soil tillage, crop rotation, fertilization, and final soil organic carbon content (SOC). No tillage (NT) was more effective (7%) in increasing SOC content than minimum tillage (MT) across the studied depths (from 5 to 40 cm). Conservation tillage as whole, including NT, MT, and rotational tillage (RT) positively affected SOC content in the top 10 cm (28%) in comparison with conventional tillage (CT). Compared to monoculture, longer crop rotations (3–5 years) and the introduction of legumes resulted in higher increases in SOC contents (18%), that were higher in semiarid conditions (11%) than under humid and sub-humid climates (3.2%). The effect of fertilization on SOC contents was higher in the Mediterranean North region (28%), and organic fertilization showed the highest increases (25%) compared to the control with mineral fertilization. Higher increases in SOC contents with tillage and fertilization management were found in sites with lower SOC contents in the control treatment (conventional tillage and mineral fertilization respectively). The data analysis indicated that various European arable agroecosystems benefit both from diversified cropping systems and the adoption of environmentally friendly farming management and are thereby capable to increase SOC contents. View Full-Text
Keywords: crop diversification; tillage; fertilization; soil organic carbon crop diversification; tillage; fertilization; soil organic carbon
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Francaviglia, R.; Álvaro-Fuentes, J.; Di Bene, C.; Gai, L.; Regina, K.; Turtola, E. Diversified Arable Cropping Systems and Management Schemes in Selected European Regions Have Positive Effects on Soil Organic Carbon Content. Agriculture 2019, 9, 261.

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