Long-term experiment

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Long Term Experiment in Pato Branco, Paraná, Brazil

  • Date of establishment: 1986
  • Local: IAPAR (Research Agronomic Institute), Experimental Station at Pato Branco, southern Parana State, Brazil (52041’ W, 26007’ S and 700 m altitude).
  • Climate: The experimental site belongs to sub humid tropical zone (koppen’s Cfb), without dry season, with mild summer and an average of hottest month lower than 220C. Annual rainfall averages from 1200 to 1500 mm.
  • Soil: The soil of the experimental site is a clayed Oxisol acid (Rhodic Hapludox), with a high clay content (72% clay, 14% silt, and 14% sand), a basaltic soil originated from volcanic eruption, containing kaolinite and iron oxide minerals (Costa, 1996). Naturally with high Aluminum content and low soil pH. Needs lime to control soil acidity.
  • Objective: Evaluate the effects of winter cover crops and crop rotation on attributes soil dynamic - chemical, physical and biological, and summer crop yield in conventional and no-tillage system.
  • Experimental treatments: Combination of eight winter species, two summer species and two tillage system (conventional and no tillage) in order to obtain a large range of biomass input and soil management. The conventional tillage consists of one pass of plough and two disc harrowing, two times a year before crops planting. The winter species are: white lupin + black oat IAPAR-61, hairy vetch, common vetch, wheat, ryegrass, hairy vetch + black oat IAPAR-61, rye, radish (IPR-116), white oat (IPR-126), blue lupin, fallow, black fallow. Summer crops as maize and soybean were sown after winter species. Cover crops are managed at flowering stage by cutting with a knife roller and the fallow by application of glyphosate. A few days after knife roller cutting, herbicide was applied. The dead material was left on the top soil as mulch or incorporated before the summer crop sowing. Since 1986 until now the biomass production of winter species has been evaluated at the flowering together with the amount of summer crop residues left on the soil surface after harvesting. Since 2012, also diseases of maize and soybeans and soil nematodes had been evaluated.

Soil Management and Crops Rotation
Block 1 Block 2 Block 3 Winter Species
1 23 35 White lupin + Black oat IAPAR 61
2 24 36 Hairy vetch
3 22 31 Common vetch
4 20 32 Fallow
5 14 30 Wheat
6 17 26 Ryegrass
7 13 34 Hairy vetch + Black oat IAPAR 61
8 18 33 Rye
9 19 28 Radish IPR 116
10 21 25 White oat IPR 126
11 15 27 Blue lupin
12 16 29 Black fallow

Long Term Experiment in San Piero a Grado, Pisa, Italy

San Piero a Grado.jpg
  • Title: COVER CROP
  • Date of establishment: 1993
  • Local: UNIPI Centre of Agri-environmental Research “Enrico Avanzi” (CIRAA), San Piero a Grado, Pisa, Italy
  • Climate: Mediterranean climate. Precipitation 826 mm/y, mean annual temperature 15°C, lowest rainfall in summer,highest in autumn.
  • Soil: Typic Xerofluvent soil with 44.3% sand, 40.2% silt and 15.5% clay (Moonen % Bàrberi, 2002)
  • Objective:The aim of this study is to determine the combined effect of two management systems -conventional (CS) vs. low-input system (LIS)- four N fertilization levels of the main crop and four soil cover types (control, Brassica juncea (Brown mustard), Trifolium squarrosum, Vicia villosa) on soil quality, crop yield and weed community dynamics.

Experimental treatments: Each treatment is replicated 4 times, for a total of 128 plot (22m length, 11m width).

  • 4-yr crop rotation: (cover crops) – maize – durum wheat – (cover crops) – sunflower – durum wheat
  • Tillage: annual ploughing (30 cm depth) –CS-; chiseling (30 cm depth) for summer crops, direct sowing for wheat –LIS-
"Cover crop" trial, experimental scheme
Effect of the three factors (tillage, N level and cover type) on maize early growth. Photograph: Daniele Antichi
  • Cover type in both system: C, control (weedy); BJ, Brassica juncea L. (Brown mustard); TS, Trifolium squarrosum L.; VV, Vicia villosa Roth. Cover crops are grown in winter before maize and sunflower, and terminated at the end of April through: disk harrowing (CS); herbicide/crusher (LIS)
  • Weed control: in CS herbicides (post-em. for maize and wheat, pre-em. for sunflower) + hoeing (spring crops);

in LIS only hoeing for spring crops, herbicides (pre-sowing and early post-emergence) for wheat. Active ingredients chosen depending on dominant species

  • Assessments: crop yield, weed abundance and composition, soil fertility.


  • Moonen A.C. and Bàrberi P. (2004). Size and composition of the weed seedbank after 7 years of different cover crop-maize management systems. Weed Research 44, 163-177.

Long Term Experiment at University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy

  • Title:

Organic and Conventional 3-year cropping systems in central Italy.

  • Date of establishment:


  • Local:

Long Term Experiment is conducted at the Experimental Station “Nello Lupori” of the University of Tuscia (UNITUS) in Viterbo, Italy (85 km NW of Rome, lat. 42°25’, long. 12°04’, alt. 310 m a.s.l.).

  • Climate:

The climate conditions at the experimental site are typical of the Mediterranean environment, with minimum temperatures few degree below 0 °C in the winter and maximum temperatures above 35 °C in the summer. Annual rainfall (mean 800 mm, considering a 30-year long term period) is mostly concentrated in autumn and spring, the potential evapo-transpiration rarely exceeds 7 mm per day in summer.

  • Soil:

The soil was volcanic and classified as Typic Xerofluvent; the particle size distribution analysis indicated that the textural class of the surface horizon (0–20 cm depth) fell within the clay loam classification with 45% sand, 38% clay and 17% silt, and an average pH(H2O) of 6.79.

  • Objective:

The main objectives of this study were to evaluate the long-term effects of cropping systems (conventional and organic) and soil tillage (conventional and reduced tillage) in a 3-year crop rotation (chickpea – durum wheat – tomato) on crop yield, soil quality, and weed community dynamics.

Experimental treatments: A 3-year crop rotation was established in both cropping systems [chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.), durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.) and tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.)]. In the organically managed cropping system, the crop rotation was implemented with common vetch (Vicia sativa L.) and oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.) cover crops, which were green manured before tomato transplanting and chickpea sowing, respectively. Furthermore, two tillage treatment systems were compared: (i) deep soil tillage consisting of moldboard ploughing to 30 cm depth, as main soil tillage, followed by secondary tillage with a disk harrow for seed bed preparation, and (ii) reduced soil tillage consisting of subsoiler application to 20 cm depth, as main soil tillage, followed by secondary shallow tillage with disk harrow for seed bed preparation. The three main crops in rotation were allocated in each block and managed according to the cropping system and tillage practice treatments therefore each crop was present every year. Cropping systems and tillage treatments were replicated three times according to a randomized complete block design.

  • Assessments:

Crop yield and characteristics, soil quality, weed abundance and composition.