Long-term organic farming on a citrus plantation results in soil organic carbon recovery

A. Novara, M. Pulido, J. Rodrigo-Comino, S. Di Prima, P. Smith, L. Gristina, A. Gimenez-Morera, E. Terol, D. Salesa, S. Keesstra


It has been shown that soil management under organic farming can enhance soil organic carbon, thereby mitigating atmospheric greenhouse gas increases, but until now quantitative evaluations based on long term experiments are scarce, especially under Mediterranean conditions. Changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) content were examined in response to organic management with cover crops in a Mediterranean citrus plantation using 21 years of survey data. Soil organic carbon increase was more apparent 5 years after a land management change suggesting that, for citrus plantations on Mediterranean conditions, studies should be longer than five years in duration. Soil organic carbon sequestration rate did not significantly change during the 21 years of observation, with values ranging from -1.10 Mg C ha-1 y-1 to 1.89 Mg C ha-1 y-1. After 21 years, 61 Mg CO2 ha-1 were sequestered in long-lived soil C pools. These findings demonstrate that organic management is an effective strategy to restore or increase SOC content in Mediterranean citrus systems.


Organic carbon; citrus; long-term experiment; carbon sequestration rate

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18172/cig.3794

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