The impact of agricultural management on selected soil properties in citrus orchards in Eastern Spain : A comparison between conventional and organic citrus orchards with drip and flood irrigation

Hondebrink, M.A.; Cammeraat, L.H.; Cerda Bolinches, Artemio


The agricultural management of citrus orchards is changing from flood irrigated managed orchards to drip irrigated organic managed orchards. Eastern Spain is the oldest and largest European producer of citrus, and is representative of the environmental changes triggered by innovations in orchard management. In order to determine the impact of land management on different soil quality parameters, twelve citrus orchards sites were selected with different land and irrigation management techniques. Soil samples were taken at two depths, 0-2. cm and 5-10. cm for studying soil quality parameters under the different treatments. Half of the studied orchards were organically managed and the other six were conventionally managed, and for each of these six study sites three fields were flood irrigated plots and the other three drip irrigated systems. The outcome of the studied parameters was that soil organic matter (SOM) and aggregate stability were higher for organic farms. Bulk density and pH were only significantly different for organic farms when drip irrigation was applied in comparison with flooded plots. C/N ratio did not vary significantly for the four treatments. Although there are some points of discussion, this research shows that a combination of different management decisions leads to improvement of a couple of soil quality parameters. Organic management practices were found to be beneficial for soil quality, compared to conventional management for soils with comparable textures and applied irrigation water.