Organic vegetable production is particularly affected by weed pressure and mechanical weeding is the major tactic implemented by growers to keep weeds under economic thresholds. Living mulch (LM) has been shown to provide several environmental services; however, LM management is required to avoid competition between service crops and cash crops. The aim of this trial was to evaluate two innovative LM-based management systems: a system that provided LM growth regulation by means of flaming (LM-FL) and a system where the LM was regularly mowed by an autonomous mower (LM-AM), both compared with a control without LM and based on standard tillage operations (TILL). The three management systems were evaluated in terms of crop production, weed control, and energy consumption on a 2 yr organic crop rotation of cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L. var botrytis) and eggplant (Solanum melongena L.). LM-AM produced an acceptable fresh marketable yield for both vegetable crops. Moreover, the weed dry biomass obtained in LM-AM-managed plots was lower compared to the LM-FL plots and ranged approximately from 200 to 300 kg ha1. Furthermore, LM-AM management resulted in lower energy consumption (2330 kWh ha1 with respect to the TILL system and 7225 kWh ha1 with respect to the LM-FL system). The results of this trial suggest that autonomous mowers have a great potential to improve LM management and help with implementing sustainable organic vegetable systems.

Innovative living mulch management strategies for organic conservation field vegetables: evaluation of continuous mowing, flaming, and tillage performances

Sportelli, M
;
Frasconi, C;Fontanelli, M;Pirchio, M;Gagliardi, L;Raffaelli, M;Peruzzi, A;Antichi, D
2022-01-01

Abstract

Organic vegetable production is particularly affected by weed pressure and mechanical weeding is the major tactic implemented by growers to keep weeds under economic thresholds. Living mulch (LM) has been shown to provide several environmental services; however, LM management is required to avoid competition between service crops and cash crops. The aim of this trial was to evaluate two innovative LM-based management systems: a system that provided LM growth regulation by means of flaming (LM-FL) and a system where the LM was regularly mowed by an autonomous mower (LM-AM), both compared with a control without LM and based on standard tillage operations (TILL). The three management systems were evaluated in terms of crop production, weed control, and energy consumption on a 2 yr organic crop rotation of cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L. var botrytis) and eggplant (Solanum melongena L.). LM-AM produced an acceptable fresh marketable yield for both vegetable crops. Moreover, the weed dry biomass obtained in LM-AM-managed plots was lower compared to the LM-FL plots and ranged approximately from 200 to 300 kg ha1. Furthermore, LM-AM management resulted in lower energy consumption (2330 kWh ha1 with respect to the TILL system and 7225 kWh ha1 with respect to the LM-FL system). The results of this trial suggest that autonomous mowers have a great potential to improve LM management and help with implementing sustainable organic vegetable systems.
2022
Sportelli, M; Frasconi, C; Fontanelli, M; Pirchio, M; Gagliardi, L; Raffaelli, M; Peruzzi, A; Antichi, D
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/1137579
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