Implications of No-tillage System in Faba Bean Production: Energy Analysis and Potential Agronomic Benefits

Salem Alhajj Ali, Luigi Tedone, Leonardo Verdini, Giuseppe De Mastro*
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Science, University of Bari – Via Amendola 165/A – 70126, Italy

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© 2018 Ali et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of agricultural and environmental science, – University of Bari Via Amendola 165/A – 70126, Italy, Tel: + (39) 0805442501; E-mail:



Given the nutritional value of faba bean, however its susceptibility to water deficit, especially in Mediterranean environment, tillage practices need to be modified in order to adapt the crop to dry and low rainfall conditions and promote the interest in its cultivation.


To identify whether no-tillage system can be considered as a sustainable means in faba bean cultivation under Mediterranean condition.


The study was conducted during a 6-year period (2010/11 to 2015/16) in southern Italy within wheat-faba bean rotation framework of a long-term experiment. The effect of No-Tillage (NT) on agronomic and energy parameters of faba bean (Vicia faba L.) cultivation was evaluated and compared to those of Conventional (CT) and Reduced (RT) Tillage.


The agronomic results indicate that NT performed better and/or is comparable to CT, while its application was 28% and 30% more energy efficient compared to CT and RT respectively. For agronomic parameters, tillage had a significant effect on number of plant m-2, grain yield, grain protein content and 100-seed weight whereas year effect was significant for yield components and quality parameters. Energy indexes, instead, were significantly affected by both factors. NT gave the best results in terms of energy efficiency, energy intensity and net energy, and consumed 39% and 36% less non-renewable energy than CT and RT, respectively.


Our findings revealed that the key benefit of NT in rainfed faba bean is its ability to produce sufficient yield of high quality with a significant reduction in energy inputs entailed the fewest field operations and therefore lowest energy requirements.

Keywords: Conservation tillage, Crop quality, Energy indexes, Mediterranean area, Vicia faba, No-tillage system.