Diversified arable cropping systems and management schemes in selected european regions have positive effects on soil organic carbon content

Rosa Francaviglia*, Jorge Álvaro-Fuentes, Claudia Di Bene, Lingtong Gai, Kristiina Regina, Eila Turtola

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In the last few decades, various crop diversification strategies and management practices have been promoted to improve or at least maintain environmental quality and agroecosystem services. We conducted a data-analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of alternatives for crop diversification and environmentally friendly farming management for arable crops in four selected European pedoclimatic regions and typical cropping systems in the Atlantic, Boreal, Mediterranean North, and Mediterranean South regions. The dataset was retrieved from 38 references and included data on site-specific environmental conditions, soil tillage, crop rotation, fertilization, and final soil organic carbon content (SOC). No tillage (NT) was more effective (7%) in increasing SOC content than minimum tillage (MT) across the studied depths (from 5 to 40 cm). Conservation tillage as whole, including NT, MT, and rotational tillage (RT) positively affected SOC content in the top 10 cm (28%) in comparison with conventional tillage (CT). Compared to monoculture, longer crop rotations (3–5 years) and the introduction of legumes resulted in higher increases in SOC contents (18%), that were higher in semiarid conditions (11%) than under humid and sub-humid climates (3.2%). The effect of fertilization on SOC contents was higher in the Mediterranean North region (28%), and organic fertilization showed the highest increases (25%) compared to the control with mineral fertilization. Higher increases in SOC contents with tillage and fertilization management were found in sites with lower SOC contents in the control treatment (conventional tillage and mineral fertilization respectively). The data analysis indicated that various European arable agroecosystems benefit both from diversified cropping systems and the adoption of environmentally friendly farming management and are thereby capable to increase SOC contents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number261
JournalAgriculture (Switzerland)
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2019


  • Crop diversification
  • Fertilization
  • Soil organic carbon
  • Tillage

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