An economic, perception and biophysical approach to the use of oat straw as mulch in Mediterranean rainfed agriculture land

Artemi Cerdà, Jesús Rodrigo Comino*, Antonio Giménez-Morera, Saskia D. Keesstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Soil erosion is a key cause of land degradation in agriculture lands; and it is a worldwide threat that must be solved by means of nature-based strategies to be able to achieve sustainability. The use of mulches can be a solution, but there is a lack of information on long-term effects of the use of straw. Furthermore, little is known about the perception of farmers and the economic cost on the implantation of straw as a conservation measure. Eight paired plots were selected in Sierra de Enguera on an agriculture field to determine the effect of straw cover on soil erosion. Four plots were tilled three times per year (Control) and four plots were not ploughed and 0.125 kg m−2 y−1 of oat straw cover was applied yearly (Straw). The plots were established in 2002, and runoff and sediment was continuously collected after each rainfall event from 2004 till 2014 when the two managements were applied. The results show an immediate effect of the straw mulches as in these plots the runoff (from 7.7 till 5.9%) and soil erosion (from 47 till 26 Mg ha−1 y−1) was reduced already in the first year. The combined effect of the use of straw yearly and the no-tillage strategy resulted in a reduction of the sediment yield, and 11 years later soil erosion rates were two orders of magnitude lower than in the control plot. However, the perception of the farmers on the use of straw is very negative and they claim that subsidies need to be implemented, as the cost of straw mulch is 1.9 times more expensive than traditional tillage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-171
JournalEcological Engineering
Volume108
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Cost
  • No-tillage
  • Perception
  • Runoff
  • Soil erosion
  • Straw mulch

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