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Francaviglia R.,Research Center for the Soil Plant System | Carroni A.M.,Research Unit for Agro pastoral Systems in Mediterranean Environment | Ruda P.,Research Unit for Agro pastoral Systems in Mediterranean Environment | Salis M.,Research Unit for Agro pastoral Systems in Mediterranean Environment | And 35 more authors.
Italian Journal of Agronomy | Year: 2015

Within the MO.NA.CO Project the environmental effectiveness of GAEC cross-compliance Standard 3.1 ‘Ploughing in good soil moisture conditions’ was evaluated, as well as the economic evaluation of the competitiveness gap for farmers which conform or do not conform to cross-compliance. The monitoring has been carried out at nine experimental farms with different pedoclimatic characteristics, where some indicators of soil structure degradation have been evaluated, such as bulk density, packing density and surface roughness of the seedbed, and the crop productive and qualitative parameters. In each monitoring farm two experimental plots have been set up: factual with soil tillage at proper water content (tilth), counterfactual with soil tillage at inadequate water content (no tilth). The monitoring did not exhibit univocal results for the different parameters, thus the effectiveness of the Standard 3.1 is ‘contrasting’ (class of merit B), and there was an evident practical problem to till the soil at optimum water content, even in controlled experimental condition. Bulk density was significantly lower in the factual treatment although in soils with very different textures (sandy-loam and clayey). Packing density (PD) showed a high susceptibility to compaction in soils with low PD and medium texture. The tortuosity index, indicating the roughness of the seedbed, was lower and generally significantly different in the factual treatment. Results showed that the ploughing done in excessive soil moisture conditions is more expensive due to the increased force of traction of the tractor, which causes an increase in slip of the tractor wheels, with a speed reduction and increase in the working times and fuel consumption. Moreover, the crop yield is also reduced considerably according to the cultivated species. © R. Francaviglia et al., 2015 Licensee PAGEPress, Italy.


Salvati L.,Research Center for the Soil Plant System | Quatrini V.,University of Tuscia | Barbati A.,University of Tuscia | Tomao A.,University of Tuscia | And 5 more authors.
Urban Forestry and Urban Greening | Year: 2016

This study investigates the relationship between soil sealing and landscape conservation in four Mediterranean regions (Athens, Barcelona, Lisbon, Rome) characterized by different patterns of urban expansion. Per-capita sealed land, a landscape conservation index and selected territorial variables were considered into a multivariate exploratory framework aimed at assessing the correlation between land-use efficiency (based on the degree of soil sealing per-capita) and the quality of suburban landscape. A population density gradient with intensity of sealed land decreasing with the distance from the central city was observed in compact urban regions such as Athens and Barcelona. A mixed urban gradient was observed in Rome and Lisbon. In all the considered cities the spatial distribution of per-capita sealed land was not correlated with the urban gradient indicating that land consumption follows place-specific patterns irrespective of landscape quality. These findings suggest that urban containment and landscape conservation are policy targets requiring environmental measures irrespective of the prevailing morphology of the urban region (compact vs dispersed). In this context, green infrastructure planning is a promising tool for landscape conservation and the containment of soil sealing within fragile and dynamic contexts such as the wildland-urban interface. © 2016 Elsevier GmbH


Brunori E.,University of Tuscia | Salvati L.,Research Center for the Soil Plant System | Mancinelli R.,University of Tuscia | Smiraglia D.,Research unit for Climatology and Meteorology applied to Agriculture CREA_CMA | Biasi R.,University of Tuscia
International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology | Year: 2016

Human activity shapes the levels of anthropogenic pressure that depend on the land management method adopted. This has a fundamental role in the transformation of traditional landscapes. This study focuses on a representative region of the Mediterranean area with the objective to analyse the landscape’s dynamics, to detect the spatial arrangement of class patches, to identify the main agroecosystem characters and to provide a framework to assess ecosystems services. In order to assess land use/land cover changes and landscape persistence, the period between 1960 and 2012 was analysed, taking into consideration the years 1960, 2000 and 2012 using comparable land use maps. Land use and land cover analysis show an urban area growth of 24% during 2000–2012 and of 523% over between 1960 and 2012. The very high levels of land abandonment up to the year 2000 (+7216%) have reversed their trend between 2000 and 2012 (−95%). The orchards showed a relevant increase, particularly after 2000, while the vineyards were linked to the highest value of surface erosion (−74%). The outcomes showed that urban settlements can damage the ecological network with negative effects on the landscape’s environmental sustainability in proximity of significant urban centres. Instead, the ecological network is well preserved and highly associated to the agricultural areas when there is the persistence of many land uses and low urban density, despite the presence of dynamic changes. © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group


Alivernini A.,Research Center for the Soil Plant System | Alivernini A.,University of Tuscia | Barbati A.,University of Tuscia | Fares S.,Research Center for the Soil Plant System | Corona P.,Forestry Research Center
International Journal of Remote Sensing | Year: 2016

This study presents an automatic methodology based on airborne laser scanner (ALS) data, which allows the mapping of forests, using quantitative criteria typical of forest definitions, i.e. minimum threshold for the height of trees, canopy cover, forest area size, and width. Interactions between forest and other land uses are explored by the methodology for the definition of forest borderlines using an additional criterion; this criterion is the distance-discontinuity (DD), which establishes a minimum width (MW) for portions of territory categorized by land uses different from the forest. The proposed forest mapping approach introduces also a fuzzy algorithm to assess the canopy cover, thereby enhancing the positional accuracy in the delineation of the forest borderline. This methodology has a very flexible mapping approach with the potential to address the many forest definitions existing worldwide. The evaluation and the improvement of the methodology are particularly encouraged by its release as an open source tool. © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


Carriero G.,CNR Plant Protection Institute | Brunetti C.,CNR Tree and Timber Institute | Brunetti C.,University of Florence | Fares S.,Research Center for the Soil Plant System | And 5 more authors.
Environmental Pollution | Year: 2016

Emission of BVOC (Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds) from plant leaves in response to ozone exposure (O3) and nitrogen (N) fertilization is poorly understood. For the first time, BVOC emissions were explored in a forest tree species (silver birch, Betula pendula) exposed for two years to realistic levels of O3 (35, 48 and 69 ppb as daylight average) and N (10, 30 and 70 kg ha-1 yr-1, applied weekly to the soil as ammonium nitrate). The main BVOCs emitted were: α-pinene, β-pinene, limonene, ocimene, (E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene (DMNT) and hexanal. Ozone exposure increased BVOC emission and reduced total leaf area. The effect on emission was stronger when a short-term O3 metric (concentrations at the time of sampling) rather than a long-term one (AOT40) was used. The effect of O3 on total leaf area was not able to compensate for the stimulation of emission, so that responses to O3 at leaf and whole-plant level were similar. Nitrogen fertilization increased total leaf area, decreased α-pinene and β-pinene emission, and increased ocimene, hexanal and DMNT emission. The increase of leaf area changed the significance of the emission response to N fertilization for most compounds. Nitrogen fertilization mitigated the effects of O3 exposure on total leaf area, while the combined effects of O3 exposure and N fertilization on BVOC emission were additive and not synergistic. In conclusion, O3 exposure and N fertilization have the potential to affect global BVOC via direct effects on plant emission rates and changes in leaf area. © 2016.


PubMed | CNR Tree and Timber Institute, Research Center for the Soil Plant System, CNR Plant Protection Institute and UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology
Type: | Journal: Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987) | Year: 2016

Emission of BVOC (Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds) from plant leaves in response to ozone exposure (O3) and nitrogen (N) fertilization is poorly understood. For the first time, BVOC emissions were explored in a forest tree species (silver birch, Betula pendula) exposed for two years to realistic levels of O3 (35, 48 and 69ppb as daylight average) and N (10, 30 and 70kgha(-1)yr(-1), applied weekly to the soil as ammonium nitrate). The main BVOCs emitted were: -pinene, -pinene, limonene, ocimene, (E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene (DMNT) and hexanal. Ozone exposure increased BVOC emission and reduced total leaf area. The effect on emission was stronger when a short-term O3 metric (concentrations at the time of sampling) rather than a long-term one (AOT40) was used. The effect of O3 on total leaf area was not able to compensate for the stimulation of emission, so that responses to O3 at leaf and whole-plant level were similar. Nitrogen fertilization increased total leaf area, decreased -pinene and -pinene emission, and increased ocimene, hexanal and DMNT emission. The increase of leaf area changed the significance of the emission response to N fertilization for most compounds. Nitrogen fertilization mitigated the effects of O3 exposure on total leaf area, while the combined effects of O3 exposure and N fertilization on BVOC emission were additive and not synergistic. In conclusion, O3 exposure and N fertilization have the potential to affect global BVOC via direct effects on plant emission rates and changes in leaf area.


Diacono M.,Research Unit for Cropping Systems in Dry Environments | Fiore A.,Research Unit for Cropping Systems in Dry Environments | Farina R.,Research Center for the Soil Plant System | Canali S.,Research Center for the Soil Plant System | And 3 more authors.
Italian Journal of Agronomy | Year: 2016

Agricultural biodiversity and related agro-ecological measures could play a crucial role in the agro-ecosystems adaptation to climate changes, thus sustaining crop production. The objective of this study was to assess the suitability (and the best combination) of agro-ecological techniques as potential resilience strategies in organic horticultural systems in a Mediterranean environment. A long-term expermental device called MITIORG (Long-term climatic change adaptation in organic farming: synergistic combination of hydraulic arrangement, crop rotations, agro-ecological service crops and agronomic techniques) is set-up at Metaponto (MT), testing the following agro-ecological measures as well as organic and conservation farming best practices: i) hydraulic arrangement by a kind of ridge-furrow system; ii) cash crop rotations; iii) agro-ecological service crops (ASC) introduction; iv) ASC termination techniques (green manure vs roller crimper); and v) organic fertilisation. The research here reported was carried out during the 2014-2015 season in the MITIORG device, on a rotation of cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L.) and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) crops. A detailed description of the scientific cognitive process that led to setup of the device, its components explanation, as well as preliminary yield results are reported. The outcomes suggest that organic vegetable cropping systems, designed following agro-ecological principles, are able to sustain yield of cash crops in rotation, in spite of changes in temperature and rainfall of the study site. Experimental data available in the next years will allow a deeper integrated analysis of the manifold effects of agro-ecological measures on horticultural systems. © M. Diacono et al., 2016.


PubMed | Research Center for the Soil Plant System
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Global change biology | Year: 2013

High ground-level ozone concentrations are typical of Mediterranean climates. Plant exposure to this oxidant is known to reduce carbon assimilation. Ozone damage has been traditionally measured through manipulative experiments that do not consider long-term exposure and propagate large uncertainty by up-scaling leaf-level observations to ecosystem-level interpretations. We analyzed long-term continuous measurements (>9 site-years at 30min resolution) of environmental and eco-physiological parameters at three Mediterranean ecosystems: (i) forest site dominated by Pinus ponderosa in the Sierra Mountains in California, USA; (ii) forest site composed of a mixture of Quercus spp. and P. pinea in the Tyrrhenian sea coast near Rome, Italy; and (iii) orchard site of Citrus sinensis cultivated in the California Central Valley, USA. We hypothesized that higher levels of ozone concentration in the atmosphere result in a decrease in carbon assimilation by trees under field conditions. This hypothesis was tested using time series analysis such as wavelet coherence and spectral Granger causality, and complemented with multivariate linear and nonlinear statistical analyses. We found that reduction in carbon assimilation was more related to stomatal ozone deposition than to ozone concentration. The negative effects of ozone occurred within a day of exposure/uptake. Decoupling between carbon assimilation and stomatal aperture increased with the amount of ozone pollution. Up to 12-19% of the carbon assimilation reduction in P. ponderosa and in the Citrus plantation was explained by higher stomatal ozone deposition. In contrast, the Italian site did not show reductions in gross primary productivity either by ozone concentration or stomatal ozone deposition, mainly due to the lower ozone concentrations in the periurban site over the shorter period of investigation. These results highlight the importance of plant adaptation/sensitivity under field conditions, and the importance of continuous long-term measurements to explain ozone damage to real-world forests and calculate metrics for ozone-risk assessment.

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