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The role of catch crops in the ecological intensification of spring cereals in organic farming under Nordic climate

Doltra, Jordi and Olesen, Jørgen Eivind (2013) The role of catch crops in the ecological intensification of spring cereals in organic farming under Nordic climate. European Journal of Agronomy, 44, pp. 98-108.

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The contribution of catch crops to the ecological intensification of organic arable systems was investigated using data of a 12-year field experiment carried out at three sites in Denmark. This study focused on the yields of spring oats and spring barley in systems with and without manure in two different cropping systems that differed in the proportion of legume-based catch crops (O2 lower and O4 higher) and in the rotation composition (grass-clover green manure in O2 and pulse crops in O4). Three consecutive four-year crop rotations were established at three locations representative of the different soil types (loamy sand, sandy loam and coarse sand) and climatic conditions. Crop management and soil operations were performed following common practices in organic farming. Measurements of dry matter (DM) and nitrogen (N) content of grain cereals at harvest, aboveground biomass in catch crops and green manure crops in autumn and of the green manure crop at the first cutting were performed. The effect of catch crops on grain yield varied with cereal and catch crop species, soil and rotation type, and the application of N in manure. Higher yield increases from previous catch crops were obtained for spring oat than for spring barley with mean estimates of the apparent N recovery efficiency of 69% and 46%, respectively. However, lower autumn N in undersown crops with higher cash crop yields was also observed. For spring oats mean grain yield benefits of including catch crops varied from 0.2 to 2.4 Mg DM ha-1 31 depending on location, manure use and course of the rotation. In spring barley mean grain yield benefits from catch crops varied from 0.1 an 1.5 Mg DM ha-132 . There was a tendency for the effect of catch crop on grain yield to increase over time. These results indicate that in Nordic climates catch crops can contribute to the ecological intensification of spring cereals, not only by reducing the nitrate leaching and increasing N retention, but also by
improving yields. Management practices in relation to catch crops must be adapted to the specific soil and cropping systems.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:spring oat, spring barley, legumes, nitrogen, cropping systems
Subjects: Crop husbandry > Crop combinations and interactions
Crop husbandry > Production systems > Cereals, pulses and oilseeds
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF III (2005-2010) > CROPSYS - The effect of cropping systems on production and the environment
Denmark > CROPSYS
Deposited By: Olesen, Senior scientist Jørgen E.
ID Code:18765
Deposited On:06 May 2011 10:47
Last Modified:06 Jun 2022 15:58
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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