Effects of cover crops on soil hydraulic properties and yield in a persimmon orchard
ABSTRACT This study evaluated the effects of cover crops on yield and soil hydraulic properties of a persimmon orchard in Turkey. Soil samples were taken from 0-20 and 20-40 cm. Profiles of a clay soil and field capacity, permanent wilting point, available water capacity and saturated hydraulic conductivity of the samples were determined. Festuca rubra subsp. rubra, Trifolium repens, Festuca arundinacea, a mixture of them [Trifolium repens (40%) + Festuca rubra rubra (30%) + Festuca arundinacea (30%)], Vicia villosa R., and Trifolium meneghinianum were used as the cover crops. The experiment was conducted in a randomized complete blocks design with four replications including a mechanically cultivated and herbicide treated control plots. The greatest mean persimmon yield (16.2 Mg·ha-1) was observed in the Vicia villosa treatment and the lowest mean yield (3.6 Mg·ha-1) was observed in the bare control. The cover crops increased soil hydraulic properties, with increased aggregate stability, total porosity, reduced bulk density, and penetration resistance. The greatest increases in organic matter contents at 0-20 cm soil depth in the persimmon orchard were observed in the Vicia treatments (73.4% in the first and 74.5% in the second year). The highest aggregate stability (67.4%) and total porosity (60.9%) values were obtained on the Vicia treatments. To increase persimmon yield and improve soil physical and hydraulic properties, cover crops, especially Vicia villosa and Trifolium repens are suggested for clay soils.