Cover Crop and Pruning Residue Management to Reduce Nitrogen Mineral Fertilization in Mediterranean Vineyards

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Abstract

This paper aimed to study the effect of temporary cover crop and vine pruning residue burial as alternative practices to conventional tillage on soil nitrate (NO3-N) availability and grapevine performance in the short term. The trial was carried out in a rain-fed vineyard (Vitis vinifera L., cv Grecanico dorato/140 Ruggeri) located in a traditional Mediterranean viticultural area (37320480 0 N; 13000150 0 E) in Sicily (Italy). Conventional tillage (CT) soil management was compared with winter cover crop (CC), conventional tillage plus buried pruning residue (CT + PR), and winter cover crop plus buried pruning residue (CC + PR) management treatments. Two fertilizer treatments (92 kg ha1 of N as urea and 0 kg ha1) were applied to the four soil management treatments. Vicia faba L. wasthe selected leguminous cover crop species, which was seeded in autumn and buried in spring at the same time as vine pruning residues. The soil NO3-N content was monitored, and vine vegetative growth, yield, and must quality were assessed over two seasons. Results showed that NO3-N availability strongly differed between fertilized (F) and unfertilized (UF) plots and years and among treatments. A positive effect of winter leguminous CC + PR on the Grecanico dorato grapevine performance was observed. In the UF vineyard, grape fertility, yield, Ravaz index, and total soluble solids were significantly higher in CC + PR vines than in other treatments, thus showing the reliability of reducing N mineral fertilization and related risks of excess nitrate in groundwater. The possibility of increasing the overall sustainability of rain-fed vineyards in a semiarid agro-ecosystem, without negative effects on grape and must quality, is also demonstrated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalAgronomy
Volume11
Publication statusPublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science

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