Cover Crop Impact on Soil Organic Carbon, Nitrogen Dynamics and Microbial Diversity in a Mediterranean Semiarid Vineyard
Cover crop (CC) management in vineyards increases sustainability by improving soil chemical and biological fertility, but knowledge on its effects in semiarid soils is lacking. This study evaluated the effect of leguminous CC management on soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration, soil nitrate content and microbial diversity in a semiarid vineyard, in comparison to conventional tillage (CT). SOC and nitrate were monitored during vine-growing season; soil respiration, determined by incubation
... d by incubation experiments, microbial biomass and diversity was analyzed after CC burial. The microbial diversity was evaluated by bacterial and fungal automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis (ARISA) and high-throughput sequencing of 16SrDNA. CC increased nitrate content and, although it had no relevant effect on SOC, almost doubled its active microbial component, which contributes to SOC stabilization. An unexpected stability of the microbial communities under different soil managements was assessed, fungal diversity being slightly enhanced under CT while bacterial diversity increased under CC. The complete nitrifying genus Nitrospira and plant growth-promoting genera were increased under CC, while desiccation-tolerant genera were abundant in CT. Findings showed that temporary CC applied in semiarid vineyards does not optimize the provided ecosystem services, hence a proper management protocol for dry environments should be set up.