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Agro-ecological benefits of faba bean for rainfed Mediterranean cropping systems

Paolo Ruisi, Gaetano Amato, Giuseppe Badagliacca, Alfonso Salvatore Frenda, Dario Giambalvo, Giuseppe Di Miceli
  • Giuseppe Badagliacca
    Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie e Forestali, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Palermo, Italy
  • Dario Giambalvo http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0267-698X
    Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie e Forestali, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Palermo; Fondazione A. & S. Lima Mancuso, Palermo, Italy
  • Giuseppe Di Miceli http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8076-5972
    Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie e Forestali, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Palermo; Fondazione A. & S. Lima Mancuso, Palermo, Italy

Abstract

This paper reviews the main results from a set of experiments carried out in a semiarid Mediterranean environment during the past 25 years on faba bean (Vicia faba L.), a crop traditionally grown in southern Italy and Sicily under rainfed conditions. These experiments focused on the residual effects of faba bean on subsequent crop(s) and assessment of the nitrogen (N) balance during the crop cycle, paying attention to both the environmental release of N (losses via volatilization and denitrification) and estimates of N2 fixation as influenced by tillage system, intercropping, and presence/absence of mycorrhizal inoculum. Faba bean relied on N2 fixation more than other grain legumes typically grown in the Mediterranean region (e.g., chickpea). Contributing reasons were the higher plant N demand of faba bean and its lower capacity to use soil mineral N. This implies higher N benefits for subsequent crop(s) as well as higher risk of N losses from the plant–soil–atmosphere system via leaching, denitrification, and volatilization. Results from these experiments contribute to better defining the role of faba bean in Mediterranean agro-ecosystems and to identifying technical solutions that maximize the potential benefits of faba bean as a fertility-building crop.

Keywords

Vicia faba L., crop rotation, grain legume, N sparing, N2 fixation, N2O emissions, pre-crop effects

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Submitted: 2016-11-07 11:01:30
Published: 2017-08-08 15:40:30
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Copyright (c) 2017 Paolo Ruisi, Gaetano Amato, Giuseppe Badagliacca, Alfonso Salvatore Frenda, Dario Giambalvo, Giuseppe Di Miceli

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