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Lookup NU author(s): Caio Zani,
Dr Geoffrey Abbott,
Dr James Taylor,
Dr Elisa Lopez-Capel,
Dr Julia Cooper
This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Wiley, 2021.
For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Soil quality (SQ) is the ability of soil to provide ecosystem functions and services. Implementation of a certain agricultural system can affect SQ and therefore play an essential role in achieving sustainable agriculture. The aim of this study was to explore how agricultural systems (conventional vs. organic), grazing regime (non-grazed vs. grazed) and the different proportions of temporary grass-clover leys in crop rotations (ley time proportion-LTP) affect SQ within a mixed (cropping and pasture/dairy system) commercial farming enterprise in the UK. Seven SQ indicators were evaluated, including chemical (pH; available phosphorus-P; potassium-K), physical (bulk density-BD; aggregate stability-AS) and biological (total carbon-C; microbial biomass carbon-MBC) sectors. All SQ indicators were measured at three depth intervals (0-0.15, 0.15-0.30, 0.30-0.60 m), except for AS and MBC, which were only considered for the topsoil (0-0.15 m). The findings reflected existing knowledge on the advantages of organic vs. conventional systems on SQ indicators, with the former showing higher MBC and similar K, BD, AS and C in the 0-0.30 m layer compared to the latter. Lower topsoil available P in organic systems can be related to the lack of measurements in all P pools. When grazing was included i) both agricultural systems showed higher topsoil available P, C and MBC; and ii) there was higher topsoil K in organic systems whilst it positively affected topsoil BD and C (0.15-0.30 m) in conventional systems. Increasing LTP to 30-40% of the full crop rotation increased topsoil AS and C (0-0.30 m) in a linear fashion. Subsoil conditions (> 0.30 m) showed K, BD and C being favoured under the conventional system, but these results should be considered carefully. It was concluded that both organic and conventional systems delivered similar levels of SQ and that reviving mixed farming systems may be a key factor for delivering multi-functional agroecosystems that maintain SQ and optimise ecosystem services.
Author(s): Zani Caio, Gowing John, Abbott Geoffrey, Taylor James, Lopez-Capel Elisa, Cooper Julia
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: European Journal of Soil Science
Print publication date: 01/07/2021
Online publication date: 28/05/2020
Acceptance date: 22/05/2020
Date deposited: 12/06/2020
ISSN (print): 1351-0754
ISSN (electronic): 1365-2389
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