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Assessment of soil erosion in olive orchards (Olea europaea L.) under cover crops management systems in the tropical region of Brazil

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

In the tropics, water erosion is one of the most important factors leading to the degradation and deterioration of agricultural land. Olive orchards have a low canopy coverage, especially during the first years after planting, due to the low density of olive trees. Given the fast expansion of olive orchards in Brazil, this study aimed to evaluate the effect of cover vegetation on soil and water losses under natural rainfall. In addition, it was assessed the crop performance and the vegetation cover index in different management systems in olive orchards. The study was carried out in soil erosion plots, where water and sediment were sampled and measured over two crops season, under the following treatments: in the first season, bare soil with olive cultivation (OBS); olive trees intercropped with spontaneous vegetation (OSV); olive trees intercropped with jack beans (OJB); olive trees intercropped with millet (OM) and, as a control, only bare soil (BS). In the second season, the OM treatment was replaced by olive trees intercropped with sunn hemp (OSH). On bare soils, soil loss was the highest reaching 303.9 Mg ha(-1) yr(-1) and where the surface runoff amounted to 484.8 mm yr(-1). However, in the absence of competition for resources with other crops, olive trees performed best under this system. The olive orchards planted in shallow and sloping soils without cover crops showed unsustainable soil loss, crusting, and sealing in the superficial soil layer, which can progress quickly for soil degradation in the future. The efficiency in the reduction of loss in relation to bare soil was 4.11 and 12.93 % for the soil loss and 12.15 and 25.17 % for water loss, respectively, for olive with spontaneous vegetation and olive with jack beans. Cover crops combined with olive trees, and reconciled with the crop performance aspects of cultivation in tropical regions, is of great relevance for improving sustainability, especially regarding the reduction of soil and water losses due to water erosion.
Journal: REVISTA BRASILEIRA DE CIENCIA DO SOLO
ISSN: 1806-9657
Volume: 44
Number of pages: 1
Publication year:2020