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Hydrological and erosional impact and farmer’s perception on catch crops and weeds in citrus organic farming in Canyoles river watershed, Eastern Spain

Cerdà, Artemi, Rodrigo-Comino, Jesús, Giménez-Morera, Antonio, Keesstra, Saskia D.
Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2018 v.258 pp. 49-58
Avena sativa, Citrus, Vicia sativa, bulk density, catch crops, crop production, farmers, farms, infiltration rate, live mulches, organic production, rivers, runoff, seeds, soil, soil erosion, soil organic matter, soil quality, sowing, subsidies, surveys, sustainable agriculture, watersheds, weeds, Spain
It is needed to find the proper management from a biophysical point of view to promote sustainable agriculture. However, it is also necessary that farmers accept new strategies that propose cultural and technical shifts. A survey of the farmerś perception, and an assessment of the biophysical impact of catch crops (CC) and weeds (W) on soil organic matter, bulk density, infiltration capacity, runoff initiation, runoff discharge and soil detachment at the pedon scale were carried out. The field measurements in the Alcoleja experimental station demonstrated that organic matter and bulk density after 10 years of Vicia sativa L. and Avena sativa L. catch crops and weeds managed plots are similar. Both CC and W plots enhanced high infiltration rates under single ring ponding conditions, the runoff discharge was delayed and decreased; and soil erosion rates were lower in comparison to soil erosion rates measured in chemically managed farms. Soil quality was high for both management strategies and soil erosion rates much sustainable due to the live mulch that catch crops and weeds developed. However, an assessment of the farmerś perception in the Cànyoles river watershed citrus production area in Eastern Spain demonstrated that the farmer’s community did not accept the use of catch crops or weeds. The survey proved that the farmers would accept the use of CC and W if subsidies were paid. The farmers claimed for the payment of the seeds and sowing expenses plus a 57 € ha−1 for the CC and 75 € ha−1 for W on average. The farmers considered the use of CC and W as benefit for the society, but not for them.