Agricultural Research Division of IANR


Date of this Version



Agriculture 2019, 9, 71; doi:10.3390/agriculture9040071


© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license


Intensive agriculture practices often results in decomposition of organic matter, thus causing soil CO2 emissions. Agro-ecological service crop could be profitably cultivated to improve soil characteristics and reduce CO2 emissions under Mediterranean environment. Two-year field trials were conducted in central Italy. The treatments were three agro-ecological service crops (hairy vetch, oat, and oilseed rape) and a no-service cover. Plant development, soil characteristics, and CO2 emissions were measured. Oat and oilseed rape showed a rapid growth, while hairy vetch started to grow rapidly only after the cold period. Soil CO2 emissions trend was similar among the agro-ecological service crops and tended to decrease during the cold period, then gradually increased until April when warm temperatures were observed. The high soil CO2 emissions and respiration index observed in hairy vetch probably stimulated mineral nutrients, especially nitrogen, to become more available in the soil compared to oat and oilseed rape throughout the decomposition of soil organic matter. These results confirmed that the cultivation of agro-ecological service crops, especially hairy vetch, could represent a suitable strategy for enhancing carbon sequestration and lead to a mitigation of CO2 emissions during the fallow period and could thus contribute to the climate change mitigation.