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Nitrate leaching from organic arable crop rotations is mostly determined by autumn field management

Askegaard, Margrethe; Olesen, Jørgen E.; Rasmussen, Ilse A. and Kristensen, Kristian (2011) Nitrate leaching from organic arable crop rotations is mostly determined by autumn field management. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 142 (3-4), pp. 149-160.

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Two main challenges facing organic arable farming are the supply of nitrogen (N) to the crop and the control of perennial weeds. Nitrate leaching from different organic arable crop rotations was investigated over three consecutive four-year crop rotations in a field experiment at three locations in Denmark (12 years in total). The experimental treatments were: i) crop rotation, ii) catch crop and iii) animal manure. Nitrate leaching was estimated from measured soil nitrate concentation in ceramic suction cells and modelled drainage. There were significant effects on annual N leaching of location (coarse sand > loamy sand > sandy loam) and catch crops (without > with). Including a grass-clover green manure on 25% of the area did not increase N leaching compared with crop rotations without green manure. Also the application of animal manure did not influence N leaching, probably because even in the manured treatments the application rate was lower than crop demand. The results identify management of crop and soil during autumn as the main determinant of N leaching. Nitrate leaching was lowest for a catch crop soil cover during autumn and winter (avg. 20 kg N ha-1), a soil cover of weeds/volunteers had on avg. 30 kg N ha-1, and the largest N leaching losses were found after stubble cultivation (avg. 55 kg N ha-1). The N leaching losses increased with increasing number of autumn soil cultivations.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:catch crop; organic manure; organic farming; green manure; perennial weeds; stubble cultivation
Subjects: Crop husbandry > Production systems > Cereals, pulses and oilseeds
Crop husbandry > Composting and manuring
Food systems > Recycling, balancing and resource management
Soil > Nutrient turnover
Farming Systems > Farm nutrient management
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF III (2005-2010) > CROPSYS - The effect of cropping systems on production and the environment
Denmark > CROPSYS
Deposited By: Askegaard, Margrethe
ID Code:18849
Deposited On:08 Jun 2011 08:44
Last Modified:06 Jun 2022 15:58
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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