The establishment of living mulches in organic orchards could potentially improve the orchard biodiversity and, when specific plant species are selected, provide additional eco-services and functions, including adequate weed management. This study was conducted in an organically managed apple orchard in Skierniewice (Poland) to assess the effect of two selected living mulching species: Alchemilla vulgaris and Mentha piperita. They were assessed on weed control, weed biodiver-sity, tree nutritional status, root dry weight density (RDWD), and other root morphological traits compared to a natural soil cover (control). Overall, both living mulches produced 42.5% more dry biomass, increased weed species number (+29%), and increased soil coverage (+33%) compared to control mowed plots. The apple leaf chlorophyll index and nutrient content were higher in the presence of both living mulches than in the control. In addition, apple trees had 30–46% higher root dry weight densities, even though other root morphological traits were not affected by the treatments. The results suggested that the tree row can be managed with living mulches of herbs; these species have the potential to provide an additional income to the farmer, as well as beneficial effects for the orchard biodiversity, without impairing the tree root development and nutrient status.

Living mulch with selected herbs for soil management in organic apple orchards

Mia M. J.;Neri D.
2021

Abstract

The establishment of living mulches in organic orchards could potentially improve the orchard biodiversity and, when specific plant species are selected, provide additional eco-services and functions, including adequate weed management. This study was conducted in an organically managed apple orchard in Skierniewice (Poland) to assess the effect of two selected living mulching species: Alchemilla vulgaris and Mentha piperita. They were assessed on weed control, weed biodiver-sity, tree nutritional status, root dry weight density (RDWD), and other root morphological traits compared to a natural soil cover (control). Overall, both living mulches produced 42.5% more dry biomass, increased weed species number (+29%), and increased soil coverage (+33%) compared to control mowed plots. The apple leaf chlorophyll index and nutrient content were higher in the presence of both living mulches than in the control. In addition, apple trees had 30–46% higher root dry weight densities, even though other root morphological traits were not affected by the treatments. The results suggested that the tree row can be managed with living mulches of herbs; these species have the potential to provide an additional income to the farmer, as well as beneficial effects for the orchard biodiversity, without impairing the tree root development and nutrient status.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11566/289930
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