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After 8 years, the MAC field trial in Lelystad, the Netherlands, shows the effects of different fertiliser strategies, ranging from animal manure to plant compost to mineral fertiliser. The impact on yield, soil quality, soil health, environment and climate change is discussed. The trial is unique in monitoring the effect of so many types of fertilisers over so many years
Soil organic matter contents under Mediterranean climatic conditions frequently are
low to very low, especially where extensive land use and thus low biomass
production is predominant. Reducing tillage intensity and maintaining crop residues
in the field are considered to be promising agricultural practices to counteract the
decline in soil organic carbon. The objectives of this work were to study the
combination of no-till and the use of different crops and amounts of residues and
their management on the evolution of soil organic matter. In two trials, crops were
established under no-till over 3 years using different levels of wheat straw and their
management and one treatment with residues of chickpea. Initial and final soil
organic matter contents were analysed. The results indicate that the higher the
amount of residues returned to the field the higher the increase of soil organic matter.
Maintenance of straw compared to in situ feeding enhances the build-up of soil
organic matter. Chickpea as a low biomass producing crop with a low C/N ratio of its
residues showed no positive effect in terms of soil organic matter improvement. The
results suggest that the return of cereal residues instead of its removal or grazing in
combination with no-till for crop establishment can contribute considerably to improve
the low soil organic matter levels found in Mediterranean environments.
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