Section 71
Chapter 70,573

Soil nitrate K as influenced by annually undersown cover crops in spring cereals

Kankanen, H.; Eriksson, C.; Rakkolainen, M.; Vuorinen, M.

Agricultural and Food Science in Finland 12(3-4): 165-176


ISSN/ISBN: 1239-0992
Accession: 070572747

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Cover crops can reduce leaching and erosion, introduce variability into crop rotations and fix nitrogen (N) for use by the main crops. In Finland, undersowing is a suitable method for establishing cover crops in cereals. The effect of annual undersowing on soil nitrate N was studied at two sites. Red clover (Trifolium pratense L.), white clover (Trifolium repens L.), a mixture of red clover and meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis Huds.), and westerwold ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam. var. westerwoldicum) were undersown in spring cereals during six successive seasons, and a pure stand of cereal was grown in two years after that. In all years, the soil nitrate N was measured in late autumn, and in addition in different times of the season in last four years. The effect of undersowing on soil NO3-N content was generally low, but in one season when conditions favoured high N leaching, westerwold ryegrass decreased soil NO3-N. The negligible increase of N leaching risk in connection with undersowing clovers, associated with late autumn ploughing, supports the use of clovers to increase the cereal grain yield. The highest levels of soil NO3-N were recorded at sowing in spring irrespective of whether a crop was undersown or not. NO3-N contents were higher in sandy soil than in silt. Undersowing can be done annually in cereal cultivation either to fix or catch N. No cumulative effects on soil nitrate N were associated with undersowing after six years.

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