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Rodriguez-Lizana A.,University of Seville | Carbonell R.,Centro Alameda del Obispo IFAPA | Gonzalez P.,Centro Alameda del Obispo IFAPA | Ordonez R.,Centro Alameda del Obispo IFAPA
Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems | Year: 2010

A common agricultural policy rule has banned the burning of wheat stubble. It might gradually increase the surface under no-till in Europe. The release dynamics of nutrients from the crop residues left on the soil surface has rarely been studied under Mediterranean climate conditions. As part of a long-term experiment started in 1982, a field study was carried out during the agricultural seasons 2001/2, 2002/3 and 2003/4, to determine the decomposition and nutrient release of above-ground residues deposited on a clayey soil in the south of Spain, in which a legume-cereal-sunflower rotation was followed. At the end of its decomposition cycle, the pea residue (Pisum sativum L. cv. Ideal) had lost 60% of its initial mass, durum wheat (Triticum durum L. cv. Amilcar) 35%, and sunflower (Helianthus annus L. cv. Sanbro) 39%. The N release by the pea residue, wheat and sunflower was of 13.5, 6.7 and 8.5 kg ha-1, respectively. The P release was of 2.9 kg ha-1 (pea) and of 0.7 kg ha-1 (sunflower), and the highest content of released K was noted in the sunflower residue, 78 kg ha-1, compared to 22.5 kg ha-1 in wheat and 2.4 kg ha-1 in pea. In pea and sunflower, residue loss and N and P release in most cases followed simple linear and exponential functions, from which the specific decay rates were calculated. The decomposition rates of the different nutrients were higher than those of the residue in pea and sunflower, and the residue semi-decomposition periods, of 138 d in sunflower, and 191 d in pea, indicated a great persistence of the remains. The soil protection was acceptable in the case of wheat and sunflower, but not in pea. The application of the Douglas-Rickman model and the knowledge of the variation in the concentration of the nutrient in the crop remains permitted the estimation of the amount of N and P remaining in them over the intercropping period. In any case, in our climate and with soils rich in K, the release of nutrients from the residue, mainly N, is fairly scant and, in principle, does not seem to be of any interest in the fertilization programmes followed by the farmers in the area. © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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