Publications

Nitrogen losses in vineyards under different types of soil groundcover. A field runoff simulator approach in central Spain

García-Díaz, Andrés; Bienes, Ramón; Sastre, Blanca; Novara, Agata; Gristina, Luciano; Cerda Bolinches, Artemio

Summary

The soils of Mediterranean vineyards are usually managed with continuous tillage, resulting in bare soil, low infiltration and high soil erosion rates. Soil nutrients, such as nitrogen, could be lost dissolved in the runoff, causing a decrease in soil fertility on such degraded soils and producing eutrophication downstream. The influences of groundcover on the soil erosion processes and sediment yields in Mediterranean vineyards have been widely addressed. However, the runoff process itself, excluding the effect of raindrop impacts, has barely been studied. Thus, a field runoff simulator was built to assess runoff and nutrient losses under different soil management strategies in Central Spain. In the winter of the 2012–2013, four vineyards were selected, and two types of groundcover were established to compare with conventional tillage (T): spontaneous vegetation (CS) and seeded Brachypodium distachyon (CB). In 2014 and 2015, 72 runoff simulations were performed to assess the influence of the two different types of groundcover on the dissolved mineral nitrogen losses in runoff. The results showed that spontaneous vegetation cover was the most effective management choice to reduce runoff and nitrogen loss by producing 3 times less runoff than conventional tillage and 6 times less nitrate loss. Conventional tillage resulted in higher mineral nitrogen loss because it produced more runoff and higher runoff nitrate concentrations. The vegetation cover had a strong influence on runoff and nitrogen losses, while the slope angle and rock fragment cover showed a negligible impact.