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Shallow non-inversion tillage in organic farming maintains crop yields and increases soil C stocks: a meta-analysis

Cooper, Julia; Baranski, Marcin; Stewart, Gavin; Nobel-de Lange, Majimcha; Barberi, Paolo; Fliessbach, Andreas; Peigne, Joséphine; Berner, Alfred; Brock, Christopher; Casagrande, Marion; Crowley, Oliver; David, Christophe; De Vliegher, Alex; Döring, Thomas F.; Dupont, Aurélien; Entz, Martin; Grosse, Meike; Haase, Thorsten; Halde, Caroline; Hammerl, Verena; Huiting, Hilfred; Leithold, Günter; Messmer, Monika; Schloter, Michael; Sukkel, Wijnand; van der Heijden, Marcel G. A.; Willekens, Koen; Wittwer, Raphaël and Mäder, Paul (2016) Shallow non-inversion tillage in organic farming maintains crop yields and increases soil C stocks: a meta-analysis. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 36, pp. 1-22.

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Document available online at: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs13593-016-0354-1


Reduced tillage is increasingly promoted to improve sustainability and productivity of agricultural systems. Nonetheless, adoption of reduced tillage by organic farmers has been slow due to concerns about nutrient supply, soil structure, and weeds that may limit yields. Here, we compiled the results from both published and unpublished research comparing deep or shallow inversion tillage, with various categories of reduced tillage under organic management. Shallow refers to less than 25 cm. We found that (1) division of reduced tillage practices into different classes with varying degrees of intensity allowed us to assess the trade-offs between reductions in tillage intensity, crop yields, weed incidence, and soil C stocks. (2) Reducing tillage intensity in organic systems reduced crop yields by an average of 7.6 % relative to deep inversion tillage with no significant reduction in yield relative to shallow inversion tillage. (3) Among the different classes of reduced tillage practice, shallow non-inversion tillage resulted in non-significant reductions in yield relative to deep inversion; whereas deep non-inversion tillage resulted in the largest yield reduction, of 11.6 %. (4) Using inversion tillage to only a shallow depth resulted in minimal reductions in yield, of 5.5 %, but significantly higher soil C stocks and better weed control. This finding suggests that this is a good option for organic farmers wanting to improve soil quality while minimizing impacts on yields. (5) Weeds were consistently higher, by about 50 %, when tillage intensity was reduced, although this did not always result in reduced yields.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:No-till, Organic farming, Conservation tillage, Conservation agriculture, Meta-analysis, Crop yield, Weeds, Soil C, Reduced tillage, Minimum tillage, Departement of Soil Sciences
Subjects: Soil > Soil quality
Crop husbandry > Soil tillage
Research affiliation: European Union > CORE Organic II > TILMAN-ORG
Switzerland > Agroscope > ART - Reckenholz location
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Soil
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Sustainability > Climate
Germany > Federal States > Hessen > Landesbetrieb Landwirtschaft Hessen
Germany > University of Berlin - HU
Germany > University of Gießen
France > ISARA - Institut supérieure d’agriculture Lyon
France > Other organizations
Belgium > Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO) - (Merelbeke) > Unit Plant Sciences
Italy > Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa
Germany > University of Kassel > Department of Organic Farming and Cropping
Netherlands > Wageningen University & Research (WUR) > Applied Plant Research PPO
UK > Organic Research Centre (ORC)
UK > Univ. Newcastle
UK > Univ. of Reading
Germany > Other organizations
ISSN:1774-0746 (Print) 1773-0155 (Online)
DOI:DOI 10.1007/s13593-016-0354-1
Deposited By: Mäder, Paul
ID Code:29974
Deposited On:05 Apr 2016 08:43
Last Modified:12 Jan 2021 10:20
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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