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Soil fertility comparison among organic and conventional managed citrus orchards in Sicily.

Stefano, Dr. Canali; Alessandra, Dr. Trinchera; Emanuela, Dr. Di Bartolomeo; Luigi, Dr. Nisini; Anna, Dr. Benedetti and Francesco, Dr. Intrigliolo (2002) Soil fertility comparison among organic and conventional managed citrus orchards in Sicily. Speech at: 17th World Congress of Soil Science, Bangkok (Thailand), 14 – 21 August.

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Summary

In recents years, organic farming is expanding in Southern Italy and in the Mediterranean area, due to interest of consumers and EU agricultural policies.
Evaluation of organic farming system introduction on soil quality and fertility status should be taken into account in order to define medium-long term environmental and agricultural strategies, on both locol and national scale. Soil physical, chemical and biological parameters represent effective tools to evaluate soil quality and changes in soil fertility status, as a consequence of different agronomic management (i.e. organic vs coventional). The aim of this work was to compare soil fertility of conventional and organic managed citrus Orchards, using specific soil system descriptors. The research was carried out in a Mediterranean environment (Sicil Region, Southern Italy), on Navelina and Tarocco orchards. Soil characteristics were analysed in 54 farms under both organic and conventional management. Farms were selected to obtain similar pairs (27) in the same environmental conditions. Moreover, orchards pairs were homogeneous for age, cultivar and rootsock to reduce effects not linked to soil management. For each soil, total organic carbon, total nitrogen, mineral NO3-N and NH4-N were determined. In addition, in order to evaluate biological fertility of the considered soils, carbon mineralisation and nitrogen mineralisation in anaerobic conditions were studied. Soils' humic fraction was at least characterised qualitatively by isoelectric focusing technique,to obtain information on soil organic matter stability.
Potenzially mineralisable carbon and cumulative mineralised carbon determined on 21 days experimental trials differed significantly in organic and conventional soils. Since this significance was detected also for cumulative mineralised carbon after 7 days, probably C-mineralisation represents the more reliable and prompter indicator to discriminate soil biological fertility with respect to the other tested ones. Moreover, it should be remarked that some parameters (as total nitrogen content, mineralised carbon after 1 days and the more humified organic matter fraction), even if not yet significantly different, revealed a strong tendency to increase in organic managed soils, attesting that the organic citrus orchards can be considered systems able to conserve energy and store nutrients more than the conventional ones.


EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Speech
Keywords:organic farming,soil fertility, citrus orchards, mineralisation,isoelectric focusing
Subjects: Soil > Nutrient turnover
Farming Systems > Farm nutrient management
Soil > Soil quality
Crop husbandry > Production systems > Fruit and berries
Research affiliation: Italy > CRA - National Council of Agricultural Research
Italy
Deposited By: Dell' Orco, Dr. Silvia
ID Code:7814
Deposited On:29 Mar 2006
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:32
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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