Effectiveness of the GAEC cross-compliance standard management of stubble and crop residues in the maintenance of adequate contents of soil organic carbon
AbstractSeveral studies carried out on the effects of stubble and crop residue incorporation have shown positive effects on chemical-physical soil characteristics. However, not all studies agree on the extent of soil organic matter increase which derives from this process, as this effect is strongly affected by other factors: the pedo-climatic features of the area in which the study is carried out, the type of crop residue incorporation and the agronomical management adopted to improve the decomposition of the incorporated fresh organic material. The burning of stubble and straw is common in the areas where cereals are traditionally grown. The adoption of this method is based on different technical and work-related factors, which become less important when taking into account the impact on the local environment and soil. A research is currently carried out at the CRA-SCA experimental farm in Foggia (Southern Italy) on the effects of either residues incorporation or burning on the chemical-physical characteristics of the soil and on the wheat yield performance since 1977. This experiment allows for a comparison among the effects of burning, the simple incorporation of stubble and crop residues and incorporation carried out with some agronomical techniques (such as the distribution of increasing amounts of nitrogen on crop residue before incorporation) and the simulation of rain (50 mm) on the decomposition of organic material. The objective of the study was to understand the effect of the different residues management practices on soil chemical properties after 32 years of experimentation). The simple incorporation of straw and stubble showed a slight increase in organic soil matter of 0.7% with respect to burning. The best results for soil organic carbon and soil quality were obtained when residual incorporation included a treatment with additional mineral nitrogen.
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