Effect of Lentil Cover Cropping on Soil Hydraulic Properties and Subsequent Crop Productivity in Two Soil Types in Central Greece
Agricultural management practices can significantly affect soil hydraulic properties and processes in space and time. Cover crops are described as “crops grown primarily for the purpose of protecting and improving soil between periods of regular crop production”. They have long been valued for their soil conservation benefits, including reducing erosion, increasing infiltration, and improving soil health. Experiments were carried out on a clayey and on a sandy soil, following a RCB design, for two years, to examine the effects of various lentil cover cropping managements on soil hydraulic properties and subsequent corn yield. Three legume managements were tested before growing corn (rotation, incorporation as green manure, no cover crop). Soil hydraulic properties were assessed with the equation I= S*t -1/2+ Ktr*t + d. Corm productivity was determined by field samplings. Green manuring and rotation with lentil, lowered the Infiltration rate as well as the Hydraulic conductivity in the sandy soil, suggesting less irrigation water losses and higher water exploitation for the subsequent crop. On the contrary, for the clay soil, only Hydraulic conductivity of transiting zone was affected and especially during springtime. Legume rotation and green manure positively affected corn kernel yield in both soils.
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