Clever Cover cropping. Synergistic Mixtures for Sustainable Soils

Project 2015–2020
Gas flux measurements in Cover crops

Details

Department
Microbial Ecology
Funding
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) thematic public-private partnership call “Groen”.
Gasflux chambers in cover crop field
Photo: Sytske Drost
Gasflux chambers

Sustainable management in agriculture is needed to reduce the negative side-effects of current intensive land use. The use of cover crops, grown in the seasons without main crops, is one of the options to increase sustainability in agricultural practices by diversification of the cropping system. Cover crops can reduce nutrient losses, stimulate nutrient cycling in the soil, enhance soil organic matter content and stimulate the microbial community in the soil. Cover crop mixtures rather than monocultures can have even greater positive effects via increased plant complementarity and residue diversity. During the decomposition of cover crop residues, we showed that mixtures increase microbial functional diversity and stimulate microbial groups involved in nutrient cycling. This indicates a promising perspective to use cover crop mixtures in the field. However, in our 4-year field experiment, we did not find differences between monocultures and mixtures in nutrient use efficiency (greenhouse gas emissions) or microbial growth or diversity.

Details

Department
Microbial Ecology
Funding
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) thematic public-private partnership call “Groen”.

Experts