icfar: PI3

LOCATION: San Piero a Grado, Pisa, Italy (43.41° N, 10.23° E) - See map
START-END YEARS: 2001 - ongoing
CROP TYPE: 5-yr crop rotation (grain maize-durum wheat-sunflower-pigeon bean-common wheat)
FACTORS: Cropping system (organic vs conventional)
The experiment was planned in the late 1990s with the aim to establish the first exhaustive and scientifically rigorous Mediterranean long-term experiment comparing organic and conventional management systems for a typical arable crop rotation of the area. Organic management is based upon EU Reg. 2092/91 and following legislation. After the conversion period, in the autumn 2001 a 5-year stockless arable crop rotation (sugar beet-common wheat-sunflower-pigeon bean-durum wheat) was started. In the organic system, red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) was interseeded in winter wheat and subsequently used as a green manure for either sunflower or sugar beet. At the end of the first crop sequence (2006), sugarbeet was replaced by grain maize, and red clover was replaced by hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth).
The aim of this experiment is to evaluate the long-term dynamics of soil physical, chemical and biological parameters, of macronutrients (NPK), of weed and pest populations and communities, of system biodiversity as well as economic and energetic aspects of systems management. A further objective is to provide, in the short-medium term, indications on the best cultural practices for the 5 crops included in the rotation.
The total experimental area (ca. 24 ha) is divided into fields of ca. 0.35-1 ha each, where the 5 crops are allocated and managed organically or conventionally (each group of 5 fields represents a system within a block – each crop is present every year). Systems are replicated three times according to a RCB design. Both natural and planted vegetation (lucerne strips and a mixed hedgerow composed by local species: Crataegus monogyna, Cornus sanguinea, Ligustrum vulgare, Lonicera xylosteum, Prunus spinosa and Rhamnus cathartica) was established in the winter 2001-02 to build up an ecological infrastructure and to physically separate conventionally- and organically-managed fields.
Additionally, two series of 5 fields (playgrounds) have been included in-between the conventional and organic systems. The playgrounds are also managed organically and have the same crop rotation, but they are used to compare (in plot trials) different options for organic management of the 5 crops (e.g. crop fertilisation, green manure species and their management, weed management alternatives, use of different machines, interseeding techniques, etc.). The outcome of trials carried out in the playgrounds, besides being used to give farmers ready-to-use practical advice, are also used to revise the structure of the organic system at the end of each rotation cycle and, if deemed necessary, to change it.


SITE MANAGER CONTACT: Marco Mazzoncini, email: marco.mazzoncini@unipi.it;
Bàrberi P. & Paolini R. (2000). Tackling weed management in organic farming: a matter of applied ecology. Proceedings 4th EWRS Workshop on Physical Weed Control, Elspeet (NL), 20-22 Mar, 3-4.
Mazzoncini M., Bonari E., Silvestri N., Coli A., Belloni P. & Bàrberi P. (2000). Agronomic and economic evaluation of conventional, low input and organic farming systems in Central Italy. Proceedings 13th International IFOAM Scientific Conference, Basel (CH), 28-31 Aug, 393.
Bàrberi P. (2002). Weed management in organic agriculture: are we addressing the right issues? Weed Research, 42, 176-193.
Mazzoncini M. & Bàrberi P. (2002). Ricerca: gli obiettivi e il metodo. A.Z. Bio, 2 (7/8), 36-41.

Mazzoncini M. & Bàrberi P. (2002). Fertilizzazione e concimazione in agricoltura biologica. A.Z. Bio, 2 (10), 58-64.
Bàrberi P. (2002). Weed management in organic agriculture: are we doing it right? Agriculture & Equipment International, 54 (4), 13-15.
Bàrberi P., Moonen A.C., Belloni P. & Mazzoncini M. (2003). Optimisation of crop spatial arrangement for cultural weed control in organic pigeon bean (Vicia faba L. var. minor). Preliminary results. Proceedings 7th EWRS Mediterranean Symposium, Adana (TR), 6-9 May, 33-34.
Bàrberi P., Belloni P., Cerrai D., Fontanelli M., Moonen A.C. & Raffaelli M. (2004). Cultural weed control in organic pigeon bean (Vicia faba L. var. minor) through optimisation of crop spatial arrangement. Proceedings 6th Workshop of the EWRS Working Group on Physical and Cultural Weed Control, Lillehammer (NO), 8-10 Mar, 2-7.
Melander B. & Bàrberi P. (2004). Physical and cultural weed control in minor crops. Proceedings 4th International Weed Science Congress, Durban (ZA), 19-25 Jun, 14.
Mazzoncini M., Bàrberi P., Cerrai D., Rinaudo V. & Belloni P. (2004). Effects of green manure on soil nitrogen availability and crop productivity in a Mediterranean organic farming system. Proceedings Eurosoil 2004, Freiburg (DE), 4-12 Sep.
Mazzoncini, M., Belloni, P., Medaglini, F., Antichi, D. (2005). Confronto tra la qualità del frumento convenzionale e biologico secondo metodi tradizionali ed innovativi. Atti XXXVI Convegno S.I.A., Foggia 20-22/09/2005, pp.27-28. ISBN: 88-7427-010-0.
Bàrberi P., Mazzoncini M., Bigongiali F. & Antichi D. (2006). SIMBIO-VEG: an interdisciplinary project for improvement of organic systems and methods in arable and vegetable cropping. Proceedings of the Joint Organic Congress 2006, Odense (DK), 30-31 May, pp. 70-71. ISBN: 9788799134335.
Mazzoncini, M., Barberi, P., Belloni, P., Cerrai, D., Antichi, D. (2006). Sunflower under conventional and organic farming systems: results from a long term experiment in central Italy. Aspects of Applied Biology, 79, 125-129.
Mazzoncini, M., Belloni, P., Risaliti, R., Antichi, D. (2007). Organic Vs Conventional Winter Wheat Quality and Organoleptic Bread Test. Proceedings of the 3rd International Congress of the European Integrated Project Quality Low Input Food (QLIF), Hoheneim, March 20-23, 2007, pp.135-138. ISBN: 978-3-03736-003-3.
Mazzoncini, M., Belloni, P., Barberi, P., Antichi, D. (2007). Energy analysis of organic and conventional farming systems. FAO International Conference On Organic Agriculture and Food Security, 3-5 May 2007, Rome, Italy, pp. 86-87.
Sapkota, T. B., Antichi, D., Belloni, P., Barberi, P., and Mazzoncini, M. (2008). Comparing Organic and Conventional Farming Systems from a Climate Change Perspective. Proceedings of the 28th Guelph Organic Conference, 22-25 January 2009. University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Antichi, D., Mazzoncini, M., Barberi, P., Bigongiali, F., Guiducci, M., Boldrini, A., Vazzana, C., Migliorini, P. (2008). Confronto tra sistemi colturali erbacei biologici e convenzionali. BioAgricultura, 110, p. 30-33.
Antichi, D., Mazzoncini, M., Bàrberi, P., Bigongiali, F., Carpi, G. (2008). Leguminous cover crops: an important tool for improving resource use efficiency in organic arable cropping systems. In: Proceedings 2nd ISOFAR Scientific Conference, Modena (IT). vol. 0, p. 232-235, Frick:ISOFAR-FiBL, ISBN: 9783037360279, Modena, 18-20 June.
Mazzoncini, M., Canali, S., Giovannetti, M., Castagnoli, M., Tittarelli, F., Antichi, D., Nannelli, R., Cristani, C., Bàrberi, P. (2010). Comparison of organic and conventional stockless arable systems: a multidisciplinary approach to soil quality evaluation. Applied Soil Ecology, 44, p. 124-132.
Mazzoncini, M., Migliorini, P., Belloni, P., Moschini, V., Bàrberi, P., Vazzana, C., Antichi, D. (2011). Long-term arable cropping system experiments in Tuscany reveal higher energy efficiency with organic than conventional management. Proceedings of the 1st Congress of RIRAB (Italian Research Network on Organic Farming), 7-8 November 2011. Catania, Italy, p.52. ISBN: 978-88-8286-250-3.

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