New innovative tool for provisioning ecological services in Southern European greenhouses. 

Agroecological service crops are an innovative tool for provisioning ecological services like contributing to soil fertility, plant nutrition and reducing weed, pest and disease incidence in the following crop in the rotation.

2021.06.24

Fig. 1: Services related to different plant families. (R=weed resuction effect, N=nutritional effect, B=biofumigant effect). Source: Ciaccia et al. 2019.

Photo 1: Agroecological service crops in Southern European greenhouse factsheet

Agroecological Service Crops (ASCs) are the plant species in a crop rotation that are grown to provide ecosystem services to the agroecosystem (e.g., cover crops, catch crops, living mulches, flower strips) rather than for yield purposes. ASCs were introduced and tested in organic greenhouse production systems within the scope of the Greenresilient project as a diversification strategy. ASC’s can contribute to:

- improving soil fertility and biodiversity in time and space,
- increasing the presence of beneficial insects,
- improving water and nutrient cycles,
- providing plant nutrition,
- reducing weed, pest and disease prevalence in the following crop.

Indeed, they can be considered ʻecological infrastructure’ and ʻecological corridors’ within cropped fields, adding resilience to the system dynamics. They also allow environments to be re-colonised by wildlife, like flora or arthropods, in the event of a disturbance (e.g., tillage).

The ASC species mixture composition introduced drives the type of services provided to the agroecosystem. Figure 1 provides a guide of which types of services three plant families provide.

A factsheet written by a project partner from CREA in Italy, explains why and how ASCs can be an innovative tool for provisioning ecological services in Southern European greenhouses, provide management tips, and provide a table of ASC species as cover crops in Mediterranean greenhouses and their main functional attributes.

Download the factsheet

Greenresilient responsible partner: CREA: https://www.greenresilient.net/partners/crea-aa-it.html


Authors
Lauren Dietemann, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL. Lauren.dietemann@fibl.org, www.fibl.org

Fabio Titarelli, CREA-AA, fabio.tittarelli@crea.gov.it, www.crea.gov.it


Editor: Karin Ullven / Design: Christine Dilling

Agriculture and food