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Abstract

Competitiveness of traditional arable crop system of Alentejo region of Portugal has been questioned for long. Discussion and research on the sustainability of the system has evolved on two contrasted alternative options for production technologies to traditional system. On the one hand reduced and no tillage systems aim to more extensive technical operations reducing costs and maintaining production, or even to increase it in the long run as soil fertility improves. On the other hand, input intensification using irrigation, as a complement in the last stage of crop cycle or always when needed, aimed to increase system production levels. To evaluate competitiveness and sustainability of arable crop system we evaluated traditional rotation technology and alternative no tillage and irrigation systems and analyze their farm economic results as well as their energy efficiency and environmental impacts. The analysis of the impact of no tillage and irrigation on arable land production system showed that both alternatives contributed to cost savings and profit earnings, energy savings and reduced GHG emissions, increasing physical and economic factor efficiency. Research and technological development of both options are worthwhile to promote competitiveness and sustainability of arable crop production systems of the Alentejo region in Portugal.

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