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Individual study: Long-term residual effects of the management of cover crop biomass on soil nitrogen and yield of endive (Cichorium endivia L.) and savoy cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. sabauda)

Published source details

Campiglia E., Mancinelli R., Di F.V. & Radicetti E. (2014) Long-term residual effects of the management of cover crop biomass on soil nitrogen and yield of endive (Cichorium endivia L.) and savoy cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. sabauda). Soil and Tillage Research, 139, 1-7


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Crop production: Use no tillage instead of reduced tillage Mediterranean Farmland

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2009–2012 in two irrigated vegetable fields in central Italy found lower crop yields in plots with no tillage, compared to reduced tillage. Crop yield: Lower crop yields were found in plots with no tillage, compared to reduced tillage, in one of six comparisons (in plots with oilseed rape as the winter cover crop: 5 vs 11 t/ha endive, fresh weight). Methods: Reduced tillage or no tillage was used on nine plots each (6 x 4 m plots). Each plot had a winter cover crop (hairy vetch, oats, or oilseed rape). Cover crops were sown in September 2009–2010 and suppressed in May 2010–2011. A rotary hoe was used for reduced tillage (incorporating the cover crop residues to 10 cm depth). The cover crop residues were gathered into strips of mulch (50 cm wide, along crop rows) in plots with no tillage. Pepper seedlings were transplanted into these plots in May 2010–2011 and were last harvested in October 2010 and September 2011. After the pepper harvest, endive and savoy cabbage seedlings were transplanted into these plots, and they were harvested in December 2010 and November 2011 (endive) or March 2011 and February 2012 (cabbage). No fertilizer was added while the crops were growing, but the plots were irrigated. It was not clear whether these results were a direct effect of tillage or mulch.

 

Soil: Use no tillage instead of reduced tillage Mediterranean Farmland

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2009–2012 in two irrigated vegetable fields in central Italy found that tillage had inconsistent effects on nutrients in soils. Nutrients: More nitrate was found in soils with no tillage, compared to reduced tillage, in one of 12 comparisons (in plots with hairy vetch as a winter cover crop: 10 vs 6 mg NO3-N/kg dry soil), but less nitrate was found in one of 12 comparisons (in plots with oats as the winter cover crop: 3 vs 6). More ammonium was found in soils with no tillage, compared to reduced tillage, in one of 12 comparisons (in plots with hairy vetch as a winter cover crop: 9 vs 5 mg NH4-N/kg dry soil), but less ammonium was found in one of 12 comparisons (in plots with oilseed rape as the winter cover crop: 4 vs 11). Methods: Reduced tillage or no tillage was used on nine plots each (6 x 4 m plots). Each plot had a winter cover crop (hairy vetch, oats, or oilseed rape). Cover crops were sown in September 2009–2010 and suppressed in May 2010–2011. A rotary hoe was used for reduced tillage (incorporating the cover crop residues to 10 cm depth). The cover crop residues were gathered into strips of mulch (50 cm wide, along crop rows) in plots with no tillage. Pepper seedlings were transplanted into these plots in May 2010–2011 and were last harvested in October 2010 and September 2011. After the pepper harvest, endive and savoy cabbage seedlings were transplanted into these plots, and they were harvested in December 2010 and November 2011 (endive) or March 2011 and February 2012 (cabbage). No fertilizer was added while the crops were growing, but the plots were irrigated. Nutrients were measured in soil samples (10 samples/plot, 0–30 cm depth, when these crops were harvested). It was not clear whether these results were a direct effect of tillage or mulch.

 

Crop production: Use no tillage in arable fields Mediterranean Farmland

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2009–2012 in two irrigated vegetable fields in central Italy found higher crop yields in plots with no tillage, compared to conventional tillage. Crop yield: Higher crop yields were found in plots with no tillage, compared to conventional tillage, in two of six comparisons (in plots with hairy vetch as a winter cover crop: 23 vs 17 t/ha endive; 23 vs 15 t/ha savoy cabbage; fresh weights). Methods: No tillage or conventional tillage was used on nine plots each (6 x 4 m plots). Each plot had a winter cover crop (hairy vetch, oats, or oilseed rape). Cover crops were sown in September 2009–2010 and suppressed in May 2010–2011. A mouldboard plough and a disk harrow (two passes) were used for conventional tillage (incorporating the cover crop residues to 30 cm depth). The cover crop residues were gathered into strips of mulch (50 cm wide, along crop rows) in plots with no tillage. Pepper seedlings were transplanted into these plots in May 2010–2011 and were last harvested in October 2010 and September 2011. After the pepper harvest, endive and savoy cabbage seedlings were transplanted into these plots, and they were harvested in December 2010 and November 2011 (endive) or March 2011 and February 2012 (cabbage). No fertilizer was added while the crops were growing, but the plots were irrigated. It was not clear whether these results were a direct effect of tillage or mulch.

 

Crop production: Grow cover crops in arable fields Mediterranean Farmland

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2009–2012 in two irrigated vegetable fields in central Italy found higher crop yields in plots with winter cover crops, compared to plots with bare soil in winter. Crop yield: Higher crop yields were found in plots with cover crops, compared to bare soil, in one of three comparisons (in plots with hairy vetch as the winter cover crop: 17 vs 7 t/ha endive; 15 vs 4 t/ha savoy cabbage). Implementation options: Higher crop yields were found in plots with hairy vetch as the winter cover crop, compared to oats (endive: 17–23 vs 5–6 t/ha; cabbage: 15–23 vs 2–6 t/ha; fresh weights), or compared to oilseed rape, in five of six comparisons (endive: 17–23 vs 5–11; cabbage: 15–23 vs 2–6). Higher yields were found in plots with oilseed rape as the winter cover crop, compared to oats, in one of six comparisons (11 vs 4 t/ha endive, fresh weight). Methods: There were nine plots (6 x 4 m plots) for each of three treatments (hairy vetch, oats, or oilseed rape) and one control (bare soil, maintained with herbicide). Cover crops were sown in September 2009–2010 and suppressed in May 2010–2011 (chopped and incorporated into the soil with a mouldboard plough, 30 cm depth). Pepper seedlings were transplanted into these plots in May 2010–2011 and were last harvested in October 2010 and September 2011. After the pepper harvest, endive and savoy cabbage seedlings were transplanted into these plots, and they were harvested in December 2010 and November 2011 (endive) or March 2011 and February 2012 (cabbage). No fertilizer was added while the crops were growing, but the plots were irrigated.

 

Crop production: Use reduced tillage in arable fields Mediterranean Farmland

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2009–2012 in two irrigated vegetable fields in central Italy found higher crop yields in plots with reduced tillage, compared to conventional tillage. Crop yield: Higher crop yields were found in plots with reduced tillage, compared to conventional tillage, in one of six comparisons (in plots with hairy vetch as the winter cover crop: 21 vs 17 t/ha endive, fresh weight). Methods: Reduced tillage or conventional tillage was used on nine plots each (6 x 4 m plots). Each plot had a winter cover crop (hairy vetch, oats, or oilseed rape). Cover crops were sown in September 2009–2010 and suppressed in May 2010–2011. A mouldboard plough and a disk harrow (two passes) were used for conventional tillage (incorporating the cover crop residues to 30 cm depth). A rotary hoe was used for reduced tillage (incorporating the cover crop residues to 10 cm depth). Pepper seedlings were transplanted into these plots in May 2010–2011 and were last harvested in October 2010 and September 2011. After the pepper harvest, endive and savoy cabbage seedlings were transplanted into these plots, and they were harvested in December 2010 and November 2011 (endive) or March 2011 and February 2012 (cabbage). No fertilizer was added while the crops were growing, but the plots were irrigated.

 

Soil: Grow cover crops in arable fields Mediterranean Farmland

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2009–2012 in two irrigated vegetable fields in central Italy found more nitrate in soils with winter cover crops, compared to bare soils. Nutrients: More nitrate was found in soils with cover crops, compared to bare soils, in two of 12 comparisons (in plots with hairy vetch as the cover crop: 6–12 vs 3–8 mg NO3-N/kg dry soil), but there were similar amounts of ammonium (0–4 mg NH4-N/kg dry soil). Implementation options: More nitrate was found in soils with hairy vetch as the cover crop, compared to oats or oilseed rape, in two of four comparisons (6–12 vs 2–6 mg NO3-N/kg dry soil), but similar amounts of ammonium were found (1–4 mg NO3-N/kg dry soil). Methods: There were nine plots (6 x 4 m plots) for each of three winter cover crops (hairy vetch, oats, or oilseed rape) and nine control plots (bare soil, maintained with herbicide). Cover crops were sown in September 2009–2010 and suppressed in May 2010–2011 (chopped and incorporated into the soil with a mouldboard plough, 30 cm depth). Pepper seedlings were transplanted into these plots in May 2010–2011 and were last harvested in October 2010 and September 2011. After the pepper harvest, endive and savoy cabbage seedlings were transplanted into these plots, and they were harvested in December 2010 and November 2011 (endive) or March 2011 and February 2012 (cabbage). No fertilizer was added while the crops were growing, but the plots were irrigated. Nitrogen was measured in soil samples (10 samples/plot, 0–30 cm depth, when the endive and cabbages were harvested).

 

Soil: Use no tillage in arable fields Mediterranean Farmland

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2009–2012 in two irrigated vegetable fields in central Italy found more nitrogen in soils with no tillage, compared to conventional tillage. Nutrients: More nitrate was found in soils with no tillage, compared to conventional tillage, in three of 12 comparisons (in plots with hairy vetch as a winter cover crop: 10–16 vs 6–12 mg NO3-N/kg dry soil), and more ammonium was found in one of 12 comparisons (in plots with hairy vetch as a winter cover crop: 9 vs 4 mg NH4-N/kg dry soil). Methods: No tillage or conventional tillage was used on nine plots each (6 x 4 m plots). Each plot had a winter cover crop (hairy vetch, oats, or oilseed rape). Cover crops were sown in September 2009–2010 and suppressed in May 2010–2011. A mouldboard plough and a disk harrow (two passes) were used for conventional tillage (incorporating the cover crop residues to 30 cm depth). The cover crop residues were gathered into strips of mulch (50 cm wide, along crop rows) in plots with no tillage. Pepper seedlings were transplanted into these plots in May 2010–2011 and were last harvested in October 2010 and September 2011. After the pepper harvest, endive and savoy cabbage seedlings were transplanted into these plots, and they were harvested in December 2010 and November 2011 (endive) or March 2011 and February 2012 (cabbage). No fertilizer was added while the crops were growing, but the plots were irrigated. Nutrients were measured in soil samples (10 samples/plot, 0–30 cm depth, when these crops were harvested). It was not clear whether these results were a direct effect of tillage or mulch.

 

Soil: Use reduced tillage in arable fields Mediterranean Farmland

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2009–2012 in two irrigated vegetable fields in central Italy found more nitrate and ammonium in soils with reduced tillage, compared to conventional tillage. Nutrients: More nitrate was found in soils with reduced tillage, compared to conventional tillage, in two of 12 comparisons (in plots with oats or oilseed rape as the winter cover crop: 6 vs 2 mg NO3-N/kg dry soil), and more ammonium was found in one of 12 comparisons (11 vs 2 mg NH4-N/kg dry soil). Methods: Reduced tillage or conventional tillage was used on nine plots each (6 x 4 m plots). Each plot had a winter cover crop (hairy vetch, oats, or oilseed rape). Cover crops were sown in September 2009–2010 and suppressed in May 2010–2011. A mouldboard plough and a disk harrow (two passes) were used for conventional tillage (incorporating the cover crop residues to 30 cm depth). A rotary hoe was used for reduced tillage (incorporating the cover crop residues to 10 cm depth). Pepper seedlings were transplanted into these plots in May 2010–2011 and were last harvested in October 2010 and September 2011. After the pepper harvest, endive and savoy cabbage seedlings were transplanted into these plots, and they were harvested in December 2010 and November 2011 (endive) or March 2011 and February 2012 (cabbage). No fertilizer was added while the crops were growing, but the plots were irrigated. Nutrients were measured in soil samples (10 samples/plot, 0–30 cm depth, when these crops were harvested).