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Monitoring and comparing cover crop performances

{Tool} Monitoring and comparing cover crop performances. Creator(s): Casagrande, Marion. Issuing Organisation(s): Institut Technique de l’Agriculture Biologique (ITAB). OK-Net Arable Practice abstract, no. 015. (2018)

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Online at: http://orgprints.org/32611

Summary

The acquired information on biomass production and expected nutri-ent release of cover crop species and/or cultivars will provide greater certainty for the selection of suitable varieties and the estimation of fulfilment of the nutrient requirements of the subsequent crop.
Method and results of practical testing
MERCI is an easy-to-use tool which simplifies:
• Estimation of the dry matter produced per hectare (tonnes per hectare);
• Calculation of the nitrogen trapped (or stored) by the cover crop;
• Definition of the nitrogen refund levels for the subsequent crop (kg/ha).
The references used in the calculations are based on more than 10 years of trials on cover crops in Poitou-Charentes/France. Simulations are carried out with INRA's STICS software.
ITAB, together with a group of farmers, tested the MERCI method, undersowing different cultivars of white clover in a winter wheat field on a farm in Central France (Saint Fargeau, Yonne). The following 6 cultivars were grown: 3 dwarf cultivars (Huia, Rivendel and Pirouette), 2 intermediate “Hollandicum” cultivars (Merwi and Jura) and 1 giant cultivar (Excell). The cultivars were compared to a mixture of species as a control.
The white clover species was sown on 26 March 2017 into winter wheat. Weeds, cover crop development (plant den-sity) and winter wheat development were monitored along the cover crop cycle (3 times). The performances of 4 cultivars were estimated in early November, using the MERCI method. Weeds were identified and their total ground cover was estimated. For each cultivar, the fresh biomass from three 1 m² plots was sampled (Fig. 1), weighed and used as an input in the MERCI tool. The most promising results were identified for Merwi cultivar (Tab.1).


EPrint Type:Practice tool
What problem does the tool address?:When farmers decide to implement cover crops on their farms, they usually lack available data regarding the performance of species and/or cultivars in their own pedo-climatic context.
What solution does the tool offer?:Testing different species and/or cultivars of cover crops on the farm generates useful local data on the performance of species and/or cultivars. The French MERCI tool (Méthode d’Estimation & des Restitutions par les Cultures Intermédiaires) facilitates their evaluation.
Country:France
Type of Practice Tool:Practice abstracts
Theme:Nutrient management
Keywords:cover crop, diagnostic tool, nutrient management
Subjects: Crop husbandry > Crop combinations and interactions
Soil > Nutrient turnover
Research affiliation: European Union > OK-Net Arable
France > ITAB - Institut Technique en Agriculture Biologique
International Organizations > International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements IFOAM > IFOAM EU Group
FP7 Grant Agreement Number:652654
Related Links:http://farmknowledge.org/index.php/search-for-ok-tools?v=32611
Project ID:oknet
Deposited By: Basler, Andreas
ID Code:32611
Deposited On:01 Feb 2018 13:23
Last Modified:01 Feb 2018 13:23
Document Language:English
Status:Published

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