Management of cropping systems and soil fertility, quality of agricultural products and agricultural by-product recovery

Evaluation of the effect of pre-crops and of fertilization strategies on the subsequent crop and on the soil chemical properties in the organic rotations in the Mediterranean basin


Crop rotation which includes a nitrogen-fixing legume is the primary mechanism of soil fertility management in organic agriculture. The supply of nitrogen to organic vegetables is often a constraint due to the wrong selection of rotating crops. Several research works have been carried out  so as to study the effect of pre-crops on the performance of the subsequent crop. However, information is still insufficient in the Mediterranean basin. 

Starting: 2.01.2006
Scheduled ending: 31.12.2010
Real ending: 23.09.2019


Organic agriculture is a production system based on the management of soil fertility so as to improve the soil chemical properties and optimize production. Pre-crops are known to reduce the technical inputs used for the improvement of soil fertility.  The main aim is to identify a rotation programme, based on a correct choice of pre-crops and of fertilization strategies, which is fit for organic agriculture in the Mediterranean context both from the agricultural and economic point of view. 



Jointly with its partners, MAIB promotes the development of common benchmarks, of definition criteria and of a participatory approach for the solution of problems affecting agriculture in the CIHEAM-member states. Within this context,  a medium-term rotation programme has been worked out envisaging the adoption of a joint multidisciplinary protocol applied in 4 countries: Italy(Bari), Turkey,Tunisia and Morocco. Soil fertility is managed through the use of 3 legume pre-crops (no comparison with a cover crop control) and 2 fertilization strategies comparing a compost tea with a commercial organic fertilizer.  



This activity enables to validate the research results in 4 different experimental sites. Results are thus comparable and applicable throughout the Mediterranean area thereby strengthening research in organic agriculture and making it complementary to all that is produced in northern Europe.  



  • Strengths

- Teaming up institutions from different countries and various disciplines;

- Achieving new results in the Mediterranean basin, in areas with different soil and climatic characteristics.

  • Weaknesses

- Some irreparable mistakes committed at the start of the trial (fertilizer-free legume control missing);

- Difficulties in the close monitoring of trials made abroad.

Reference person/s: Al Bitar Lina /
Collaborators: Al Chami Ziad / Bteich MarieReine / Calabrese Generosa Jenny / Cardone Gianluigi / Mimiola Giancarlo / Mondelli Donato / Verrastro Vincenzo /
Institutions involved:
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