Do organic inputs matter – a meta-analysis of additional yield effects for arable crops in Europe

R. Hijbeek*, M.K. van Ittersum, H.F.M. Ten Berge, G. Gort, H. Spiegel, A.P. Whitmore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background and aims: Organic inputs have a positive effect on the soil organic matter balance. They are therefore an important asset for soil fertility and crop growth. This study quantifies the additional yield effect due to organic inputs for arable crops in Europe when macro-nutrients are not a limiting factor. Methods: A meta-analysis was performed using data from 20 long-term experiments in Europe. Maxima of yield response curves to nitrogen were compared, with and without organic inputs, under abundant P and K supply. Results: We were surprised to find that, across all experiments, the mean additional yield effect of organic inputs was not significant (+ 1.4 % ± 1.6 (95 % confidence interval)). In specific cases however, especially for root and tuber crops, spring sown cereals, or for very sandy soils or wet climates, organic inputs did increase attainable yields. A significant correlation was found between increase in attainable yields and increase in soil organic matter content. Conclusions: Aggregating data from 20 long-term experiments in Europe, this study shows that organic inputs and/or soil organic matter do not necessarily increase yields, given sufficient nutrients are supplied by mineral fertilisers. Results show the relevance of some environmental factors for additional yield effect of organic inputs, but no simple relation between organic inputs and crop growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-303
JournalPlant and Soil
Volume411
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Crop yield
  • Food security
  • Organic inputs
  • Soil carbon sequestration
  • Soil fertility
  • Soil organic matter

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