Maximising the benefits from cover crops through species selection and crop management (Maxi-Cover crop)

Project number
Lead partner
Start date
August 2016
End date
November 2019
AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds funding
£230,000 (total funding £315,300)

The challenge

Cover crops have great potential to achieve sustainable intensification of crop production through several mechanisms including: improving soil structure/quality; greater soil nutrient and water retention; reducing the risk of soil erosion, surface run-off and diffuse pollution; and by managing weeds or soil-borne pests. They can also count towards Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) greening requirements. However, the potential benefits of cover crops are not always realised on farm because of lack of evidence about which cover crop species is best, how to manage the crop in different situations, limited knowledge of cover crop options, and (in many cases) reliable cultivation technologies do not exist.

The project

This project aims to maximise the potential economic, agronomic and ecological benefits from cover crops through a better understanding of species effects and crop management technologies. There are four objectives:
1) Quantify the effects of different cover crops on soil properties, crop rooting and yield, and develop bespoke cover crop seed mixtures.
2) Validate the effects of different cover crop mixtures and new cultivation/destruction technologies on AHDB Monitor Farms.
3) Update cover crops guidance.
4) Transfer knowledge of the project findings to growers, industry and academia.

The benefits

It is anticipated that the project outputs will provide practical science-based information for cover crop selection and management as well as new knowledge on how cover crops can be used to enable deeper, more extensive crop rooting. The opportunity for knowledge exchange activities on AHDB Monitor Farms will maximise the impact of the project and benefit to levy payers.

Project launch news item - 19 January 2017

Project's early findings - 11 August 2017

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