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Article

Evaluating Different Catch Crop Strategies for Closing the Nitrogen Cycle in Cropping Systems—Field Experiments and Modelling

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Grass and Forage Science/Organic Agriculture, Christian Albrechts University, 24118 Kiel, Germany
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Department of Grass and Forage Science/Organic Agriculture, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, 8830 Tjele, Denmark
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2021, 13(1), 394; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010394
Received: 19 November 2020 / Revised: 22 December 2020 / Accepted: 28 December 2020 / Published: 4 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Suitable Agronomic Techniques for Sustainable Agriculture)
For arable stockless farming systems, the integration of catch crops (CC) during the fallow period might be a key for closing the nitrogen (N) cycle, reducing N leaching and increasing the transfer of N to the subsequent crop. However, despite considerable research efforts, the fate of N in such integrated systems remains unclear. To address this, a two-year field experiment was carried out in northern Germany with different CC, including frost-tolerant and frost-killed CC. The experiment started following a two-year ryegrass/red clover ley, which was subsequently sown with a cereal (CE) or a grain legume (field pea, PE). This provided two contrasting systems with high residual N in autumn. The results showed high N uptake of the CC, ranging from 84 to 136 kg N ha−1 with PE as the pre-crop, and from 33 to 110 kg N ha−1 with CE. All CC reduced N leaching compared with the control, a bare fallow over autumn/winter. Of the various CC, the frost-killed CC showed higher leaching compared with the other CCs, indicating mineralisation of the CC residue in the later autumn/winter period. The process based APSIM (Agricultural Production SIMulator) model was used to simulate N cycling for a cereal grain legume rotation, including a frost-killed and a frost resistant CC. While the model simulated the biomass and the N uptake by the crops, as well as the reduction of N leaching with the use of CC well, it under-estimated N leaching from the frost-killed CC. The study showed that all CC were affective at reducing N leaching, but winter hard catch crops should be preferred, as there is a risk of increased leaching following the mineralisation of residues from frost-killed CC. View Full-Text
Keywords: N leaching; N uptake; legumes and non-legumes; frost-killed and frost-tolerant catch crops; APSIM N leaching; N uptake; legumes and non-legumes; frost-killed and frost-tolerant catch crops; APSIM
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MDPI and ACS Style

Böldt, M.; Taube, F.; Vogeler, I.; Reinsch, T.; Kluß, C.; Loges, R. Evaluating Different Catch Crop Strategies for Closing the Nitrogen Cycle in Cropping Systems—Field Experiments and Modelling. Sustainability 2021, 13, 394. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010394

AMA Style

Böldt M, Taube F, Vogeler I, Reinsch T, Kluß C, Loges R. Evaluating Different Catch Crop Strategies for Closing the Nitrogen Cycle in Cropping Systems—Field Experiments and Modelling. Sustainability. 2021; 13(1):394. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010394

Chicago/Turabian Style

Böldt, Matthias, Friedhelm Taube, Iris Vogeler, Thorsten Reinsch, Christof Kluß, and Ralf Loges. 2021. "Evaluating Different Catch Crop Strategies for Closing the Nitrogen Cycle in Cropping Systems—Field Experiments and Modelling" Sustainability 13, no. 1: 394. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010394

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