Faba bean grain yield, N2 fixation, and weed infestation in a long-term tillage experiment under rainfed Mediterranean conditions

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Background and Aims Long-term experiments could provide valuable information to determine the effects of an agronomic practice on agro-ecosystem productivity and stability. This study evaluated the long-term (18-year) impact of different tillage systems on faba bean (Vicia faba L.) productivity, including weed and broomrape incidence, and N2 fixation.Methods The experiment was carried out on a Vertisol under rainfed Mediterranean conditions. It was set up as a strip plot design. The tillage systems were: conventional tillage (CT) with moldboard plow, reduced tillage (RT) with chisel plow, and no tillage (NT). Nitrogen fixation was estimated over 2 years in the final phase of the experiment using the 15N isotope dilution technique.Results On average, grain yield was 31% and 23% higher under NT than under CT and RT, respectively; however, the effect of tillage varied by year. The yield advantage of NT over CT was pronounced when rainfall was scarce. Average broomrape infestation was lower under NT than under CT, but a reduction in tillage intensity resulted in an increase in weed biomass. Tillage had no effect on weed richness, but the use of the NT technique progressively altered the weed composition by determining conditions conducive to the growth of a few weed species that are hard to control. Nitrogen fixation was strongly influenced by tillage, being higher under NT than under CT.Conclusions The results suggest that NT is a valuable option in the rainfed cereal–legume rotation systems of Mediterranean environments; however, the success of NT technique depends on the use of effective weed control strategies.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)215-227
Numero di pagine13
RivistaPlant and Soil
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2012


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science

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