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Publication | 18 December 2020

Nutrient management practices and benefits in Conservation Agriculture systems

Nutrient cycling is considered as a key agroecosystem service of Conservation Agriculture (CA). CA brings together major nutrients and organic matter fluxes within the soil-micro-organism-plant system. It also generates organic and inorganic nutrient pools accessible through new biological pathways. This chapter addresses nutrient management practices and benefits in CA systems. Current trends in CA systems design are discussed, as is integrated nutrient management. The concept of the “forest model” is introduced and discussed in detail. Sections on nutrient pools, bioavailability of elements, and mineral use efficiency in CA systems are also included. The chapter concludes with two case studies from contrasting agroecosystems: one from a Brazilian Fazenda transitioning from "generic" CA to CA based on multifunctional mix species cover, and one from a French dairy farm, illustrating how CA, associated with important and diversified organic matter inputs from cover crops and crop residues, impacts and modifies plant nutrition management.

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