Mediterranean agricultural areas are dominated by cropping systems based on winter cereals crops, summer irrigated crops, foragebased systems, and mixed succession with bare fallow. Soil organic carbon (SOC) is widely used to assess the environmental performance of these cropping systems, since it is strongly influenced by management practices and environmental conditions. This study evaluates the sustainability of representative intensive cropping systems of Southern Italy, in terms of SOC stock changes and CO2 emissions in the long-term perspective, using a process-based model (RothC10N) combined with a GIS-based spatialization procedure. On the basis of SOC modelling, results showed that crop management practices currently adopted by farmers did not guarantee SOC sequestration in all the rotations (–4.29 Mg C ha–1). The sustainability of cropping systems can be improved through management practices such as the retention of crop residues into the field and/or the rational use of irrigation for the summer crop (6.73 Mg C ha–1). This finding could help policy makers to provide suggestions for a more effective local implementation of agro-environmental measures.
Carbon sequestration; CO2 emissions; durum wheat; forage crops; GIS.