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Cover crops (Previously NT0401) - NT1508

Over-winter cover crops grown between the harvest of one crop and sowing of the following spring crop represents an important management strategy to immobilise nitrate which would otherwise be liable to leaching. Cover crops have not been extensively grown in the UK and an urgent need exists for more detailed information on many aspects arising from their introduction into a range of site and soil situations. This study will be composed of 2 primary objectives: to prepare guidelines on the use of cover crops to minimise nitrate leaching, with minimal effect on subsequent spring sown crops; and to determine the effects of cover crops on N cycling in arable cropping systems and their influence on N requirements for subsequent crops. Cover crop species most effective at minimising nitrate leaching in particular soil/climate situations will be identified, by building on work conducted in an existing study. Subsequently, mineralization of residues of selected cover crops in the second year following incorporation will be monitored. Effects of preceding cover crops on the establishment and growth of subsequent pea and potato crops will be determined, together with the cumulative effect of cover crops on the mineralizable N pool and amount and timing of N released by mineralization. Data from these studies will be collated and used to test existing models of mineralization as applied to cover crops. A further objective of the study will be to determine the effect of cover crops on the incidence of pests, diseases and weeds. Results of the study will be used to develop improved guidelines for farmers on cover crop use.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Final Report   (836k)
• Final Report - Annex : Appendix to Final Report - Review of mineralisation   (484k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1995

To: 1998

Cost: £315,080
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Fields of Study
Fertilisers and Nitrate Pollution