Effects of Different Cover Crops on Soil Quality Parameters and Yield in an Apricot Orchard
Cover crop treatments significantly increased yield in an apricot orchard according to the control. Effects of different cover crop treatments on some soil quality parameters and yield of a apricot orchard located in Turkey were investigated. For this purpose, Vicia villosa Roth. (VV), V. pannonica Crantz. (VP), a mixture of V. pannonica (70%) and Triticale (30%) (VPT) and Phacelia tanacetifolia Benth. (PT) were grown as winter cover crops, and Fagopyrum esculentum was grown as summer cover crop in the apricot orchard with clay soil. The experiment was done in a randomized complete block design with 4 replications including a plot mechanically cultivated (MC), herbicide treatment (HC) and bare control plot (BC). The soils were sampled from 0–20 cm and 20–40 cm depths in each plot for soil analyses. The cover crops enhanced soil quality parameters like organic matter (OM), total nitrogen (N), electrical conductivity (EC), basal soil respiration (BSR), structural stability index (SSI), aggregate stability (AS), saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks), bulk density (BD), permanent wilting point (PWP), available water capacity (AWC) and field capacity (FC). The highest rises were in the treatment of the VV, diminishing the BD by 12.7% while raising the OM by 63.5%, Ks by 248.7%, AWC by 19.4% and SSI by 9.4% in the 0–20 cm soil depth. OM contents of cover crop treatments were ordered as; HC < BC < MC < PT < FE < VPT < VP < VV. The highest correlations among the soil parameters were obtained for the VV between OM and BD (-0.911**), BD and Ks (- 0.906**), OM and Ks (0.989**). It was concluded based on current results that cover crops may be incorporated into cropping systems to improve soil quality.