Effectiveness of cover crops to reduce loss of soil organic matter in a rainfed vineyard

Manuel López-Vicente*, Elena Calvo-Seas, Sara Álvarez, Artemi Cerdà

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Cover crops (CCs) minimize the loss of soil in permanent cropping systems where the soil is usually bare due to intense tillage or overuse of herbicides. The topsoil, the richer layer in soil organic carbon and organic matter (OM), is affected by water erosion. Nature-based solutions appear as a suitable option for sustainable farming. In this study, the effectiveness of two years of CC management to reduce the OM loss is evaluated in a rainfed vineyard in a rolling landscape (Huesca, NE Spain). Two sediment traps collected runoff over 15 months. Topsoil OM contents (1.64% and 1.60%) and sediment/soil OM enrichment ratio (2.61 and 3.07) were similar. However, the average annual rate of OM loss was 3.6 times higher in the plot with lower vegetation cover than in the plot with CCs (1.29 vs. 0.35 kgOM ha-1 yr-1). The concentration of OMSed showed a negative relationship with the net soil loss; and significant differences appeared between the OMSed in the months with low and moderate-to-high ground cover. CCs are an excellent nature-based solution to control the unsustainable soil and OM losses measured in vineyards, which will contribute to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number230
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Cover crop
  • Enrichment ratio
  • Mediterranean climate
  • Sediment trap
  • Soil erosion
  • Soil organic matter
  • Vineyard


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