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Potential of indicators to unveil the hidden side of cropping system classification: Differences and similarities in cropping practices between conventional, no-till and organic systems

Potential of indicators to unveil the hidden side of cropping system classification: Differences and similarities in cropping practices between conventional, no-till and organic systems

Büchi, Lucie ORCID: 0000-0002-1935-6176, Georges, Florent, Walder, Florian, Banerjee, Samiran, Keller, Thomas ORCID: 0000-0002-9383-3209, Six, Johan, van der Heijden, Marcel and Charles, Raphaël (2019) Potential of indicators to unveil the hidden side of cropping system classification: Differences and similarities in cropping practices between conventional, no-till and organic systems. European Journal of Agronomy, 109:125920. ISSN 1161-0301 (doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eja.2019.125920)

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Abstract

To compare different cropping systems, it is crucial to describe explicitly the associated cropping practices. A set of 31 indicators and six composite indexes addressing farm structure, crop diversification, soil disturbance, organic matter inputs, nitrogen fertilisation, crop protection, and yield was used to describe 59 winter wheat fields belonging to conventional, no-till and organic systems, in Switzerland. The aim of this study was to investigate the complementarity and redundancy of the indicators and their potential to characterise these cropping systems. In general, weak correlations were observed between the studied indicators, showing the importance of using a set of indicators to fully characterise cropping practices. The complex indicators were often correlated with simpler ones, but it cannot be excluded that they can prove to be more useful in different contexts. Retaining a combination of simple and complex indicators to obtain a broad picture of cropping practices is thus recommended. The indicators highlighted differences but also similarities between the three systems. For example, the input of organic matter and crop rotation diversification were similar between the three systems. In contrast, total nitrogen fertilisation (lower for organic systems) and soil disturbance (lower for no-till systems) were different. A high within-system variability was observed for some indicators, suggesting that using quantitative indicators rather than simple classifications based on a general description of the systems allows a better characterisation of these systems. Overall, the use of indicators has the potential to improve our understanding of the influence of cropping practices on the soil and environment.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Field level indicators, Composite indexes, Crop diversification, Organic matter inputs, Soil disturbance intensity, On-farm study
Subjects: Q Science > QK Botany
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Ecosystem Services Research Group
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2019 15:34
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/24598

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