Controlled traffic farming increased crop yield, root growth, and nitrogen supply at two organic vegetable farms

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Abstract

Increased farm machinery weight in agricultural production results in soil compaction. Controlled traffic farming (CTF) restricts traffic to permanent lanes, thereby creating traffic free beds for crop production. Field experiments were conducted at two organic vegetable farms in Denmark, on a sandy loam (2013–2016) and on coarse sand (2013–2015) to investigate CTF effects compared with random traffic farming (RTF) on vegetable yield, root growth, and soil mineral nitrogen (N). Root growth was measured using minirhizotrons. White cabbage, potato, and beetroot yield increased by 27%, 70% and 42%, respectively, in CTF compared with RTF in 2015 and winter squash indicated a yield increase of 43% on sandy loam in 2016. White cabbage (2015) and potato, beetroot and winter squash (2016) grew 2–25 times more roots and beetroot grew deeper roots under CTF compared with RTF on sandy loam in 2016. On coarse sandy soil, beetroot root frequency was 1.4 times greater under CTF than under RTF and beetroot roots grew deeper than 1.5 m under both treatments in 2015. Soil mineral N and potential net N mineralization were equal between treatments or higher in CTF by 2–41 kg ha −1 and 11 mg kg −1 35 days −1 , respectively, indicating N supply was maintained or increased in this system. Despite the variability in crop and root growth responses to traffic between years and crops, the effects were always equal or positive for CTF following treatment implementation. Therefore, our results encourage the use of CTF for organic vegetable production under temperate conditions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSoil & Tillage Research
Volume191
Pages (from-to)117-130
Number of pages14
ISSN0167-1987
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

Keywords

  • Beetroot
  • Potato
  • Root density
  • Soil mineral nitrogen
  • White cabbage
  • Witner squash
  • Winter squash
  • L.
  • COMPACTION
  • POTATO
  • QUALITY
  • EMISSIONS
  • SENSITIVITY
  • SOIL PHYSICAL-PROPERTIES
  • CONSEQUENCES
  • SYSTEMS

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