Soil organic matter and related physical properties in a Mediterranean wheat-based rotation trial

  • Published source details Masri Z. & Ryan J. (2006) Soil organic matter and related physical properties in a Mediterranean wheat-based rotation trial. Soil & Tillage Research, 87, 146-154.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Soil: Use crop rotations

Action Link
Mediterranean Farmland

Use crop rotation

Action Link
Soil Fertility
  1. Soil: Use crop rotations

    A replicated, controlled experiment in 1985–1995 in a rainfed durum wheat field near Aleppo, Syria, found more organic matter and greater stability in soils with crop rotations, compared to continuous wheat. Organic matter: More organic matter was found in plots with crop rotations, compared to continuous wheat, in five of six comparisons (11.4–13.8 vs 10.9 g/kg). Soil erosion and aggregation: More stable soils were found in plots with crop rotations, compared to continuous wheat (30–41% vs 22% of aggregates were water-stable). Methods: Durum wheat Triticum turgidum var. durum was grown continuously or in two-year rotations with lentils Lens culinaris, chickpeas Cicer arietinum, medic Medicago sativa, vetch Vicia faba, watermelon Citrullus vulgaris, or fallow (one plot for each crop phase, each year). Each plot was 36 x 150 m. Soils samples were collected each year, before planting (0–20 cm depth).


  2. Use crop rotation

    A replicated experiment from 1983 to 1995 on fine clay soil in Syria (Masri & Ryan, 2006) found that soil organic matter increased in medic Medicago sativa and vetch Vicia sativa legume-cereal rotations (12.5-13.8 g/kg), compared to continuous wheat Triticum aestivum and wheat-fallow (10.9-11 g/kg). Higher levels of water filtered into the soil and hydraulic conductivity (see background section) was higher in legume rotations (16.2-21.8 cm/h and 8.7-12.4 cm/h) compared to continuous wheat and wheat-fallow (13.9-14.4 cm/h and 6.2-7.4 cm/h). Cropping sequences included: (1) durum wheat (var durum) grown in rotation with lentil Lens culinaris, chickpea Cicer arietinum, medic and vetch and watermelon Citrullus vulgaris; (2) continuous wheat; (3) wheat with a clean-tilled fallow. Each crop treatment was 36 x 150 m. There were seven replicates. Within these plots were secondary grazing treatments and tertiary nitrogen fertilizer treatments, but no results were presented. Soils were sampled annually prior to planting to 20 cm depth.


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