Management of chestnut plantations for a multifunctional land use under Mediterranean conditions: effects on productivity and sustainability
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Chestnut plantations for fruit production in Northern Portugal have been subjected to intensive management system, including soil tillage, mineral fertilization and pruning. Some of these practices have no positive effect on productivity and soil– plant–water relations. Other systems (e.g., no tillage with maintenance of grass cover) have been adopted, aiming a multifunctional land use, exploiting nuts, pasture and edible mushrooms. Thus, an experimental trial was installed to assess the effects of such systems on productivity, sustainability and annual net income, as compared with the conventional system, over a six-year period. The treatments were: conventional soil tillage (CT); no tillage with permanent spontaneous herbaceous vegetation cover (NV); no tillage with permanent rainfed seeded pasture cover (NP); and as NP but with irrigation (NIP). Production of nuts, forage and edible mushrooms were measured and sustainability was assessed by production and diversity of fungal sporocarps. Annual net income was estimated by the difference between the annual gross outputs (market values for nuts, forage and edible commercial mushrooms) and the annual input costs. The greatest nut and edible mushroom production and sporocarp biodiversity were achieved in the NIP and NV and the smallest in the CT treatment. The highest annual gross output was estimated for the NV and NIP treatments, whereas the highest annual net income was obtained for the NV. No tillage with maintenance of spontaneous grass cover showed to be the most favourable management system, as it has increased productivity and biodiversity.
Agroforestry systems , Biodiversity Castanea sativa , Economics , Edible mushrooms , Silvopastoral systems , Soil management