Cover-crop Mixes Balance Nitrogen-fixing and Nitrogen-scavenging
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Cover Crop (340) in Organic Systems
Long-term cover-crop research by Penn State has shown that individual cover crops are either good at reducing nitrogen leaching or increasing nitrogen supply to cash crops, but not both. Recently, researchers have been testing cover-crop mixes to try to balance the two objectives, and they reported study results in PLOS One. Tests of six cover-crop monocultures and four mixtures showed that all of them reduced nitrogen leaching to some extent. However, the most effective mix for boosting crop yield and reducing nitrogen pollution combined a high proportion of legumes with rye. The researchers say their results could be especially important for organic growers seeking to be more productive without causing nutrient pollution.