Energy balance of five fodder cropping systems in the irrigated lowlands of Northern Italy
AbstractExtensification has recently become an important option in Western European agriculture, driven both by economic considerations (product surpluses together with the fact that developed countries cropping systems have been heavily relying on fossil energy) and growing public concern on the possible adverse effects of intensive farming on the environment and human health. The adoption of rational fodder crop rotations, with the rediscovery of the beneficial effect of the meadow, is viewed as a possible mean to reduce the impact of farming systems in the lowlands of Northern Italy, characterised by highly intensive cropping and animal husbandry. For this reason our study examines the effects of crop rotation on the energy balance during 1985-2007 period in a long-term crop rotation trial in Northern Italy comparing five fodder crop systems, different in the degree of crop intensification and for the presence or absence of the meadow: a 1-year continuous cereal double cropping (R1); a 3-year rotation (R3); a 6-year rotation (R6); a permanent meadow (PM); and a continuous grain maize cropping (CM). Each rotation was subjected to two input treatments, defined as high (mostly used in lowlands of northern Italy) and low (input reduction of ca. 30%) respectively, in terms of nutrient levels, herbicide doses, and soil tillage methods. The crop rotations exerted a marked influence on the energy balance. The most efficient rotations in terms of net energy production energy efficiency have been characterized by reduced length and presence of maize and catch-crops.
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Copyright (c) 2011 Cesare Tomasoni, Lamberto Borrelli, Massimo Brambilla
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