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https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2966
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2966
22 Dec 2023
 | 22 Dec 2023

Use of soil respiration measurements and RothC modelling show effects of catch crops and precision and traditional agriculture on productivity and soil organic carbon dynamics in a 5 year study in Mediterranean climate

Enrico Balugani, Alessia Castellucci, Matteo Ruggeri, Pierluigi Meriggi, Benedetta Volta, and Diego Marazza

Abstract. Finding agricultural managements able to increase soil organic carbon without a reduction in crop yields is important to: decrease soil erosion, protect soil ecosystem services, increase soil health, help to curb net CO2 emissions toward the EU goal of carbon neutrality. Various studies have shown that catch crops, when managed in the proper way, may result in an increase in soil carbon stocks; however, recent studies have cast doubts on those findings, due to short study duration (3 years or less), few data points, and catch crops mismanagement. Model studies to estimate the potentials of catch crops for soil carbon sequestration shown mixed results; however, in these studies, only the direct effects of catch crops (i.e. the input of carbon from crop inclusion in the soil) was accounted for. Here, we show the result of a study to compare two crop managements: traditional against catch crop together with precision agriculture. We measured agricultural productivity, soil organic carbon, soil respiration, and soil conditions in two different sites in Italy for a period of 4+ years, then we modelled the field managements using a modified version of RothC model, to account for both direct and indirect catch crop effects on soil. The results show that catch crops and precision agriculture can result in an increase in soil organic carbon, with no effects, or, in some cases, an increase in crop production.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Enrico Balugani, Alessia Castellucci, Matteo Ruggeri, Pierluigi Meriggi, Benedetta Volta, and Diego Marazza

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2966', Anonymous Referee #1, 19 Jan 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Enrico Balugani, 23 Mar 2024
  • AC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2966', Enrico Balugani, 13 Mar 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2966', Anonymous Referee #2, 13 Mar 2024
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC2', Enrico Balugani, 23 Mar 2024
Enrico Balugani, Alessia Castellucci, Matteo Ruggeri, Pierluigi Meriggi, Benedetta Volta, and Diego Marazza
Enrico Balugani, Alessia Castellucci, Matteo Ruggeri, Pierluigi Meriggi, Benedetta Volta, and Diego Marazza

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Short summary
To become more sustainable, agriculture needs practices that decrease net carbon emission to the atmosphere, increase soil carbon, and simultaneously increase yields and profits. In this study, we show that, in two different areas in Italy, the use of technology-informed managements of catch and cover crops could increase soil carbon sequestration, decrease overall carbon emissions, and increase agricultural yields.