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Simulating soil fertility management effects on crop yield and soil nitrogen dynamics in field trials under organic farming in Europe

Doltra, J.; Gallejones, P.; Olesen, J.E.; Hansen, S.; Frøseth, R.B.; Krauss, M.; Stalenga, J.; Jończyk, K.; Martínez-Fernández, A. and Pacini, G.C. (2019) Simulating soil fertility management effects on crop yield and soil nitrogen dynamics in field trials under organic farming in Europe. Field Crops research, 233, pp. 1-11.

[thumbnail of doltra-etal-2019_FCR_Vol233_p1-11.pdf] PDF - Published Version - English
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Document available online at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fcr.2018.12.008


Soil fertility building measures should be explored at the short and long-term for an adequate evaluation of their impact on sustaining yields and of its environmental consequences in crop rotations under organic farming. For such a purpose, process-based crop models are potential useful tools to complement and upscale field observations under a range of soil and climatic conditions. Organic rotations differ in soil fertility dynamics in comparison to conventional farming but very few modelling studies have explicitly considered this specific situation. Here, we evaluate the FASSET model to predict the effects of different fertility management options in organic crop rotations on dry matter (DM) and nitrogen (N) yield, and soil N dynamics, including N2O emissions.
For that, we used data from seven short and long-term field experiments in different agro-climatic environments in Europe (Norway, Denmark, Poland, Switzerland, Italy and Spain) including climate, soil and management data. Soil fertility building measures covered fertilization type, green manures, cover crops, tillage, crop rotation composition and management (organic or conventional). Model performance was evaluated by comparing observed and simulated values of crop DM and N yield, soil mineral N and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions using five complementary statistical indices. The model closely reproduced most observed DM and N yield trends and effects of soil fertility building measures in arable crops, particularly in cereals. Contrary, yields of grass-clover, especially N, were generally reproduced with low degree of accuracy. Model performance for simulating soil mineral N depended on site and the availability of soil and management information. Although high uncertainty was associated to the simulation of soil N dynamics, differences of cumulative N2O emissions between fertility building measures were reflected in model outputs. Aspects for modelling improvement include cover crop growth and decomposition, biological N fixation (BNF) or weed and pest soil-crop interactions. It is concluded that FASSET can be successfully used to investigate the impact of fertilization type, green manures, tillage and management (organic or conventional) on crop productivity and to a certain extent on soil N dynamics including soil N2O emissions at different soils and climates in organic farming in Europe.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Organic farming, Crop rotation, FASSET process-based model, Crop yield, Nitrous oxide emissions, Department of Soil Sciences, Cultivation Technique, Arable Crops, FertilCrop
Subjects: Soil > Soil quality
Soil > Nutrient turnover
Crop husbandry > Soil tillage
Research affiliation: Denmark > AU - Aarhus University
European Union > CORE Organic Plus > FertilCrop
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Soil
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Sustainability > Climate
Spain > Other organizations
Spain > SERIDA (Servicio Regional de Investigación y Desarrollo Agroalimentario del Principado de Asturias)
Italy > Univ. Firenze
Norway > NIBIO – Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research
Norway > NORSØK - Norwegian Centre for Organic Agriculture
Horizon Europe or H2020 Grant Agreement Number:618107
Related Links:https://www.fertilcrop.net/fc-home-news.html
Deposited By: Krauss, Maike
ID Code:34308
Deposited On:08 Jan 2019 09:40
Last Modified:12 Jan 2021 10:48
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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