Assessment of agro-ecological service crop managements combined with organic fertilisation strategies in organic melon crop
In organic horticultural systems, cover crops could provide several ecological services, therefore, they can be defined agroecological service crops (ASCs). The objective of this two-year research was to study the suitability on melon production of different ASC termination strategies, in combination with organic fertilisers application. In a split-block design, the main-plot was the ASC management, comparing: i) green manure, in which the vetch was chopped and plowed into the soil; and ii) roller-crimper (RC), in which the vetch was flattened by a roller-crimper; with iii) fallow control, without vetch. The subplot consisted of offfarm organic inputs: i) commercial humified fertiliser; ii) anaerobic digestate fertiliser; iii) composted municipal solid wastes; which were compared to iv) unfertilised control (N0). At vetch termination, above soil biomass and nitrogen (N) content were determined. At harvesting, crop yield performance and quality, N status and N efficiency were investigated. Also, main soil characteristics were assessed at the end of the trial. Among the ASC managements, the slightly reduced yield in the RC plots particularly in combination with N0 might have been the result of less N supplied by the vetch during the melon cycle. Anyway, no negative effects were observed for yield quality. The use of the RC showed a great potential in enhancing soil fertility. Our study suggests the suitability in organic farming of properly matching management of ASC and fertilisation strategies on melon crop.
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