Conservation tillage in a semiarid Mediterranean environment: results of 20 years of research

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Abstract

Conservation tillage techniques are becoming increasingly popularworldwide as they have the potential to generate environmental, agronomic,and economic benefits. In Mediterranean areas, studies performedon the effects of conservation tillage [in comparison with theconventional tillage technique (CT)] on grain yield of cereal cropshave reported contradictory results as well as considerable year-to-yearvariation, demonstrating how the impact of different soil tillage techniqueson crop productivity is strongly site-specific. The present papersummarises the main results from a set of experiments carried out inSicily during the last 20 years in which we compared no tillage (NT) toCT in terms of their respective effects on the productivity and qualityof durum wheat, while at the same time varying some other crop managementpractices (e.g. crop sequence, N fertilisation, wheat genotype,sowing time). On average, no differences were observed between thetwo tillage techniques; yields were 3.84 and 3.87 Mg ha–1 for CT andNT, respectively. However, NT guaranteed superior yield when waterstress during the crop cycle was high, whereas CT led to higher yieldswhen water availability was adequate. Moreover, the results suggestthat the use of NT needs to be accompanied by a rational crop sequence. In fact, a cumulative detrimental effect of NT over time wasfound for continuous wheat. Finally, grain quality in terms of proteincontent was slightly higher for CT (15.1%) than NT (14.4%). Thus,when using NT, the rate of nitrogen fertiliser application should beincreased to offset this difference.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalItalian Journal of Agronomy
Volume9
Publication statusPublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science

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