Long-term effects of soil management on ecosystem services and soil loss estimation in olive grove top soils

Luis Parras-Alcántara*, Beatriz Lozano-García, Saskia Keesstra, Artemi Cerdà, Eric C. Brevik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)


Soil management has important effects on soil properties, runoff, soil losses and soil quality. Traditional olive grove (OG) management is based on reduced tree density, canopy size shaped by pruning and weed control by ploughing. In addition, over the last several decades, herbicide use has been introduced into conventional OG management. These management strategies cause the soil surface to be almost bare and subsequently high erosion rates take place. To avoid these high erosion rates several soil management strategies can be applied. In this study, three strategies were assessed in OG with conventional tillage in three plots of 1. ha each. Soil properties were measured and soil erosion rates were estimated by means of the RUSLE model. One plot was managed with no amendments (control), and the other two were treated with olive leaves mulch and oil mill pomace applied yearly from 2003 until 2013. The control plot experienced the greatest soil loss while the use of olive leaves as mulch and olive mill pomace as an amendment resulted in a soil loss reduction of 89.4% and 65.4% respectively (assuming a 5% slope). In addition, the chemical and physical soil properties were improved with the amendments. This combined effect will created a higher quality soil over the long term that it is more resilient to erosion and can provide better ecosystem services, as its functions are improved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-506
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Amendments
  • Andalucía
  • Conventional tillage
  • Olive leaves
  • Olive mill pomace
  • Soil erosion
  • Soil management


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