UNIVERSITÀ DI PISA
The case study focuses on a series of long term experiments (LTEs) carried out at large plots/field scale at the Centre for Agri- environmental Research “Enrico Avanzi” of the University of Pisa. Two field experiments are focusing on the applicaton of conservation agriculture techniques (i.e. reduced or no tillage, cover crops), whereas the third one dealt with organic vs conventional farming systems. The oldest field experiment started in 1986 and is comparing on around 2 ha continuous no-till vs annual moldboard ploughing 30 cm depth on durum wheat and pigeon bean crops. Effects on soil fertility (SOC, C stock, bulk density, total N, available P, pH) are regularly assessed at different depths (0-10, 10-30, 30-60 cm), besides with crop yield and nutrient uptake. The second LTE is comparing omn 4 ha since 1993 the combination of 2 tillage levels (reduced tillage vs annual ploughing 30 cm depth), 4 N fertilization levels and 4 cover crop species (control, hairy vetch, radish, a mixture of the two) on a 4-yr arable crop rotation including durum wheat, sunflower and grain sorghum. Soil fertility issues, crop yield, weed abundance and composition are regularly assessed. In the third LTE, being carried out on 23 ha since 2001, an organic and a conventional management system are being compared on a 4-yr (conventional system: durum wheat-chickpea-common wheat and grain sorghum) or 8-yr (organic system: common wheat-grain millet-grain sorghum- chickpea-hemmer wheat-alfalfa) arable crop rotation. Soil fertility, crop yield and rheological quality, weed abundance and composition, energy use efficiency, economic balance, are regularly assessed, thanks to the standard field plot size.
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