Long-term organic farming on a citrus plantation results in soil organic carbon recovery

A. Novara*, M. Pulido, J. Rodrigo-Comino, S.D.I. Prima, P. Smith, L. Gristina, A. Giménez-Morera, E. Terol, D. Salesa, S. Keesstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


It has been shown that soil management under organic farming can enhance soil organic carbon, thereby mitigating atmospheric greenhouse gas increases, but until now quantitative evaluations based on long term experiments are scarce, especially under Mediterranean conditions. Changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) content were examined in response to organic management with cover crops in a Mediterranean citrus plantation using 21 years of survey data. Soil organic carbon increase was more apparent 5 years after a land management change suggesting that, for citrus plantations on Mediterranean conditions, studies should be longer than five years in duration. Soil organic carbon sequestration rate did not significantly change during the 21 years of observation, with values ranging from -1.10 Mg C ha-1 y-1 to 1.89 Mg C ha-1 y-1. After 21 years, 61 Mg CO2 ha-1 were sequestered in long-lived soil C pools. These findings demonstrate that organic management is an effective strategy to restore or increase SOC content in Mediterranean citrus systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-286
Number of pages16
JournalGeographical Research Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • Carbon sequestration rate
  • Citrus
  • Long-term experiment
  • Organic carbon

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