Cropping systems, tillage and fertilization strategies for durum wheat performance and soil properties

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Consiglio per la Ricerca e la sperimentazione in Agricoltura - Research Unit for the Study of Cropping Systems- Metaponto (MT), Italy.

2 Consiglio per la Ricerca e la sperimentazione in Agricoltura-Research Unit for Cropping Systems in Dry Environments-Bari, Italy.


Many sustainable agronomical practices can be adopted to contain

environmental risks of crop production and, at the same time, sustain yield and

quality. In this framework, the aim of this research was to study the effects of

continuous cropping (CC) and crop rotation, tillage and fertilization strategies on

durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.) production. The responses of soil properties

were further investigated. The research was carried out from 1998 to 2006 in two

two-year rotations repeated two times and in a continuous cropping. The wheat

yield and total nitrogen (N) uptake mean value were significantly higher in rotation

(by 9.7 and 21.5%, respectively) than in CC. Moreover, the broad bean-wheat

rotation significantly increased wheat performance, in particular yield (+35.2 and

47.9% in conventional and in minimum tillage, respectively) compared to sugar

beet-wheat rotation. The minimum tillage increased total organic carbon compared

to the conventional one and this enhancement was observed both in CC and

rotation (+11.6 and 10.6%, respectively). The reduced tillage also increased total N

in both cropping systems and mineral N (+25.4%) in rotation. On the whole, the

findings of this research provide an opportunity to identify best cultivation

strategies to improve wheat performance in rainfed farming systems.

Keywords: Minimum tillage; Rotation systems; Fertilizer application; Wheat yield;

Soil quality.