Organic olive rainfed system for less erosion and better soil health

Picture copyright Duran et al.

Soil erosion rates are high in rainfed olive mountain plantations applying conventional practices, compromising, therefore, their long-term sustainability. Implementing sustainable soil management strategies is essential for hillslopes and low-fertility soils where plantations cover vast tracts of land. Researchers Durán et al. revealed potential environmental benefits of the organic system in controlling water erosion and improving soil health restoration compared to the conventional system.

Conservation tillage and organic farming reduce soil erosion

Picture copyright Paillard, Inra

Soil erosion is a major environmental problem with severe impacts on agriculture. Scientists Seitz et al. investigated topsoil loss in organic and conventional farming. They compared different tillage systems under simulated rainfall events and found that organic farming in general and reduced tillage practices, in particular, can reduce soil erosion significantly.

Shrubs and trees on drylands make a difference for West African farmers

Picture copyright Felix et al.

Soil degradation in semi-arid West Africa can be reversed by intensive organic matter applications, in particular from woody perennials. Scientists Felix et al. recently reviewed the effects of agroforestry and wood amendments on soil properties and crop yields in semi-arid West Africa. They reckon that the presence of shrubs and trees on agricultural fields has overall positive but variable effects on soil carbon stocks and cereal yields.

Cactus crop maintains soil organic carbon

Picture copyright De León-González et al.

Arable soils tend to lose organic carbon in the Mexico áreas cultivated with maize. Scientists De León-González et al. studied the emissions of C-CO2 and soil organic carbon in a highland of central Mexico under different agricultural systems. They found that cultivation of perennial cactus crop in combination with maize production allows maintaining soil fertility, due to cactus crop root characteristics.

Multi-household grazing maintains soil fertility

Picture copyright Cao

Changes in land management pattern, such as the way that grazing is organized, affect soil fertility. Scientists Cao et al. studied the soil fertility in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. They observed that lands owned and managed by single families had their soils more severely degraded than those of lands collaboratively managed by multiple families.

Reducing pressures on soil functions in Germany

Picture copyright Techen and Helming

Agricultural soils are under pressure due to increasing demands for producing food, feed, fibers, and other ecosystem services. Scientists Techen and Helming reviewed how many practices including higher precision and lightweight machines triggered by robotics provide more sustainable soil management. However, they plead for a better identification of possible threats connected to some of those practices.

Mulching benefits in agro-ecology

Picture copyright Ranaivoson et al.

Using plant residues as a mulch, modifies soil properties and enhances crop productivity potential under conservation agriculture. Scientists Ranaivoson et al. reviewed the benefits of mulch on soil water processes, soil erosion, soil nutrient supply, soil organic carbon, weed infestation and abundance of meso- and macrofauna. They showed evidence of improved performances with increasing amounts of surface crop residues.

Predicting stocks of soil organic carbon

Picture copyright Cardinael

Increasing carbon stocks in agricultural areas seeks to reinforce food security and affect climate change. In the context of the 4 per 1000 international initiative, scientists Dignac et al. review recent advances on the mechanisms of soil organic carbon stabilisation/destabilisation and show how agricultural practices influence these mechanisms. They show how these mechanisms can be integrated in global climatic models to ameliorate predictions of soil organic carbon stock evolution.

A new method to measure soil erosion

Picture copyright DUAN et al.

Soil erosion is a major issue for crop production, and is expected to increase with climate change. Measuring soil loss is difficult and few reliable methods are available. Agronomists Duan et al. designed a new method to calculate soil loss tolerance, taking into account soil productivity.