3 years ago

Stable nutrient flows in sustainable and alternative cropping systems of globe artichoke

Stefano Caraffini, Ester Spissu, Gavino Sanna, Paola A. Deligios, Maria Teresa Tiloca, Luca Doro, Luigi Ledda, Martina Buffa, Giulia R. Urracci, Emanuela Spanu, Leonardo Sulas


The conventional cultivation of globe artichoke causes high nitrogen (N) balance surpluses. The planning of more sustainable open-field horticultural systems (with no synthetic fertilizer supply) can contribute to the reduction of the nutrient surplus. We hypothesized that an artichoke conventional system could be shifted to a sustainable system through mineral fertilizer supply based on expected plant nutrient uptake, return of crop residues in well-defined growth phases, use of fertility-building crops, and crop rotations. Over a 10-year field experiment, three management systems, differing in fertilizer rates, crop sequence (monoculture/rotation with cauliflower), and legume cover crop adoption and management, were compared: (i) improved conventional, (ii) alternative monoculture, and (iii) biannual rotation. We monitored soil conditions at a sampling interval of approximately 3 years. We calculated gross N, P, and K balances for each growing season, and we also monitored soil respiration over the last two growing seasons. On average, the biannual rotation resulted in a well-balanced N budget (72 kg ha−1 N surplus) compared with improved conventional (160 kg N ha−1 N surplus) and alternative monoculture (− 34 kg ha−1 deficit) systems. By contrast, compared with the improved conventional system (133 and 116 kg ha−1 for P and K budgets, respectively), alternative monoculture and biannual rotation systems had negative budgets for P (− 9 kg ha−1 for both alternative systems) and K (− 58 and − 51 kg ha−1 for alternative monoculture and biannual rotation systems, respectively) in nine of ten growing seasons. Our results show for the first time that long-term biannual rotation with cauliflower coupled with cover crop use can optimize nutrient fluxes of conventionally grown globe artichoke. Overall, the study proposes a re-design of artichoke cropping systems, provides novel information useful for growers, and verifies that introducing a legume species cover crop is also the most promising approach to foster long-term sustainability.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13593-017-0465-3

DOI: 10.1007/s13593-017-0465-3

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