Effects of tilling methods on soil penetration resistance, organic carbon and water stable aggregates in a vineyard of semiarid Mediterranean environment

  • Pietro CataniaEmail author
  • Luigi Badalucco
  • Vito Armando Laudicina
  • Mariangela Vallone
Original Article


Tillage, especially in semiarid Mediterranean environment, enhances the mineralization process of soil organic matter (SOM) and, in turn, decreases aggregate stability. Furthermore, continuous tillage leads to the formation of plough pan beneath the tilled layer. In the present study, we investigated the effect of an innovative self-propelled machine (spading machine, SM) for shallow tillage on SOM, water stable aggregates (WSA) and soil penetration resistance (PR). Such effects were compared to those of chisel plough (CP), rotary tiller (RT) and no tillage (NT). Each tilling method was applied up to a depth of 15 cm, whereas in NT only a brush cutter was used for weed control. Soil analyses were performed at the start of the experiment (March 2009, T0), in April 2010 (T1), May 2012 (T3), and June 2014 (T5) at both 0–15 and 15–30 cm. Compared to T0, soil PR increased with time in all the treatments and generally followed the order SM < RT < CP < NT. In soil tilled with the SM, soil PR never exceeded 2.5 MPa that was demonstrated to be a critical value for root elongation, and no evidence of the formation of plough pan beneath the tilled layer was observed. SOC as well as water content and WSA were higher in SM compared with CP and RT. In conclusion, the spading machine was proved to be more efficient in lowering the soil PR and in avoiding the formation of the plough pan. Furthermore, SM increased SOC and WSA.


Tilling method Plough pan Spading machine Water content 



This study was supported by the Regional Department of Agricultural and Food Resources (Sicily) within the Project “Introduzione di una macchina innovativa a basso impatto ambientale per la gestione di colture in aree a forte declività o terrazzate ad elevato valore paesaggistico”. The authors are grateful to Mr. Salvatore Amoroso for supporting the execution of the field tests.

Supplementary material

12665_2018_7520_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (71 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 71 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural, Food and Forestry SciencesUniversity of PalermoPalermoItaly

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