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Experiments with catch crops for erosion control in maize production

Experiments with catch crops for erosion control in maize production

Wirtschaftseigene Futter 32(1): 60-71

Experiments with catch crops for erosion control in maize production. In long-term experiments the influence of catch crops together with reduced soil cultivation before sowing on silage maize yield and cob proportions was investigated. Using an erosion measurement installation furthermore the erosion control by catch crops as compared with maize growing without catch crops and with bare fallow was examined. The tests led to the following results: 1. Even undersowings with weak competitive ability (subterranean clover, yellow suckling clover), sown together with maize, caused substantial depressions of maize yield (partly up to 60%). The yield stability of maize production decreased. 2. Annual catch crops (a.o. mustard, summer rape, phacelia) which die during winter or form a mulch layer on the soil surface did not lower the yield. The effect of the herbicide applied as usual was sufficient. 3. With overwintering catch crops (a.o. Italian ryegrass, winter rape) an insufficient herbicide effect and subsequent yield reductions were observed. 4. Surface water run-off was reduced by catch crops to 12% in comparison with bare fallow and to one quarter compared with maize growing without catch crops. 5. On bare fallow about 13% of the precipitation was lost as surface run-off water. The catch crops lessened the run-off proportion of 0.3-2.9%. 6. The catch crops decreased the erosion to 1% of that observed on bare fallow plots. They were particularly effective in winter and after maize sowing at the time of heavy rain falls in early summer. Between catch crop species no substantial differences occurred. 7. Even after closure of the maize foliage catch crops growing reduced the soil losses by more than one half.

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