The conventional cultivation of globe artichoke causes high nitrogen (N) balance surpluses. The planning of more sustainable open-field horticultural systems (with no synthetic fertilizer supply) can contribute to the reduction of the nutrient surplus. We hypothesized that an artichoke conventional system could be shifted to a sustainable system through mineral fertilizer supply based on expected plant nutrient uptake, return of crop residues in well-defined growth phases, use of fertility-building crops, and crop rotations. Over a 10-year field experiment, three management systems, differing in fertilizer rates, crop sequence (monoculture/rotation with cauliflower), and legume cover crop adoption and management, were compared: (i) improved conventional, (ii) alternative monoculture, and (iii) biannual rotation. We monitored soil conditions at a sampling interval of approximately 3Â years. We calculated gross N, P, and K balances for each growing season, and we also monitored soil respiration over the last two growing seasons. On average, the biannual rotation resulted in a well-balanced N budget (72Â kgÂ haâ1N surplus) compared with improved conventional (160Â kg NÂ haâ1N surplus) and alternative monoculture (âÂ 34Â kgÂ haâ1deficit) systems. By contrast, compared with the improved conventional system (133 and 116Â kgÂ haâ1for P and K budgets, respectively), alternative monoculture and biannual rotation systems had negative budgets for P (âÂ 9Â kgÂ haâ1for both alternative systems) and K (âÂ 58 and âÂ 51Â kgÂ haâ1for alternative monoculture and biannual rotation systems, respectively) in nine of ten growing seasons. Our results show for the first time that long-term biannual rotation with cauliflower coupled with cover crop use can optimize nutrient fluxes of conventionally grown globe artichoke. Overall, the study proposes a re-design of artichoke cropping systems, provides novel information useful for growers, and verifies that introducing a legume species cover crop is also the most promising approach to foster long-term sustainability.
Stable nutrient flows in sustainable and alternative cropping systems of globe artichoke / Deligios, Paola A.; Tiloca, Maria Teresa; Sulas, Leonardo; Buffa, Martina; Caraffini, Stefano; Doro, Luca; Sanna, Gavino; Spanu, Emanuela; Spissu, Ester; Urracci, Giulia R.; Ledda, Luigi. - In: AGRONOMY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. - ISSN 1774-0746. - 37:6(2017). [10.1007/s13593-017-0465-3]