Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-131
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-131
 
26 Apr 2022
26 Apr 2022

Evaluation of a long-term optimized management strategy for the improvement of cultivated soils in rainfed cereal cropland based on water retention curves

Alaitz Aldaz-Lusarreta1,2, Rafael Giménez1,2, Miguel A. Campo-Bescós1,2, Luis M. Arregui1,4, and Iñigo Virto1,3 Alaitz Aldaz-Lusarreta et al.
  • 1Institute for Innovation & Sustainable Development in Food Chain (IS-FOOD), Universidad Pública de Navarra (UPNA), Campus de Arrosadia, 31006 Pamplona, Spain
  • 2Department of Engineering, Ed. Los Olivos, Universidad Pública de Navarra (UPNA), Campus de Arrosadia, 31006 Pamplona, Spain
  • 3Department of Science, Ed. Los Olivos, Universidad Pública de Navarra (UPNA), Campus de Arrosadia, 31006 Pamplona, Spain
  • 4Department of Agricultural Engineering, Biotechnology and Food, Ed. Los Olivos, Universidad Pública de Navarra (UPNA), Campus de Arrosadia, 31006 Pamplona, Spain

Abstract. This study evaluates an optimized cropping system (including no-tillage, cover crops and organic amendments), as an alternative to conventional management for rainfed cereal cropping in a calcareous soil in a semi-arid Mediterranean climate zone in Navarre (Spain), based on the analysis of soil water retention curves (SWRC) and soil structure. In an agricultural area, plots were randomly selected on a soil unit (Fluventic Haploxerept), with contrasting managements: (a) optimized system; which includes no-tillage (18 years continuous) after conventional tillage, crop rotation, use of cover crops and occasional application of organic amendments, and (b) conventional management; which involves continuous conventional tillage (chisel plow), mineral fertilization, no cover crops and a lower diversity of crops in the rotation. Undisturbed soil samples from the soil surface (0–5 cm) and disturbed samples from the tilled layer (0–30 cm) were collected for both systems. The undisturbed samples were used to obtain the detalied SWRCs in the suction range 0 kPa to 110 kPa using a Hyprop® device. From these SWRCs, the Dexter S index was determined. Disturbed samples were used in the laboratory to assess soil structure by means of an aggregate-size fractionation. SWRCs showed significant differences between the two studied agricultural systems, corresponding to different pore size distributions. However, the S index did not show significant differences between the two cropping systems. In addition, the soil under conventional management showed greater macroporosity (gravitational water). As a result, the soil under the optimized system stored up to 10 % more water for the crop at the studied depth. Likewise, more stable macroaggregates were observed in the optimized system than in the conventional one, as well as more organic C storage, greater microbial activity, and biomass. Overall, these results reflect a better quality –or less degradation– of the soil after 18 years under the optimized system than its conventionally managed counterpart.

Alaitz Aldaz-Lusarreta et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Review SOIL: egusphere-2022-131', Johan Bouma, 04 May 2022
    • EC1: 'Reply on RC1', Simeon Materechera, 15 May 2022
      • AC2: 'Reply on EC1', Alaitz Aldaz, 30 Jun 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Alaitz Aldaz, 30 Jun 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-131', Anonymous Referee #2, 13 May 2022
    • EC2: 'Reply on RC2', Simeon Materechera, 15 May 2022
      • AC4: 'Reply on EC2', Alaitz Aldaz, 30 Jun 2022
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC2', Alaitz Aldaz, 30 Jun 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-131', Anonymous Referee #3, 17 May 2022
    • EC3: 'Reply on RC3', Simeon Materechera, 17 May 2022
      • AC6: 'Reply on EC3', Alaitz Aldaz, 30 Jun 2022
    • AC5: 'Reply on RC3', Alaitz Aldaz, 30 Jun 2022
  • RC4: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-131', Anonymous Referee #4, 18 May 2022
    • AC7: 'Reply on RC4', Alaitz Aldaz, 30 Jun 2022
    • AC8: 'Reply on RC4', Alaitz Aldaz, 30 Jun 2022
  • RC5: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-131', Anonymous Referee #5, 22 May 2022
    • AC9: 'Reply on RC5', Alaitz Aldaz, 30 Jun 2022
  • RC6: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-131', Anonymous Referee #6, 30 May 2022
    • AC10: 'Reply on RC6', Alaitz Aldaz, 30 Jun 2022
  • CC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-131', María Chu, 02 Jun 2022
    • AC11: 'Reply on CC1', Alaitz Aldaz, 30 Jun 2022

Alaitz Aldaz-Lusarreta et al.

Alaitz Aldaz-Lusarreta et al.

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Short summary
This study shows how an optimized cropping system including no-tillage, cover crops and organic amendments is able to store up to 10 % more water for the crop than conventional management for rainfed cereal cropping in a semi-arid Mediterranean area in Navarre (Spain).