Catch and Cover crops are widely and successfully used in Germany and the Netherlands to significally improve the output of arable and energy crop rotations.
SAATEN UNION have led development of the Catch and Cover crop systems by providing the market with a succession of excellent varieties and a wealth of technical expertise developed by the team at specialist plant breeder, PH PETERSEN. Elsoms are now working closely with SAATEN UNION’S team to make the same varieties and services available to UK farmers and growers.
1. Soil Nutrients
Catch and Cover crops improve the content and management of nutrients in the soil. Losses of
existing nutrients due to leeching are reduced whilst through incorporation and/or through
the nature of the Catch and Cover crop nutrient levels can be increased and released back into
the soil at a time when the next crop can use them.
2. Soil Structure
The vigorous, extensive and deep rooting habits of Catch and Cover crops such as CONTRA RADISH
can significantly improve the structure and quality of soil.
3. Soil Health
Catch and Cover crops can have a very beneficial effect on soil health with respect to pests
and diseases such as, for example, Take All, Beet Cyst Nematode, Potato Cyst Nematode etc. They
can also prevent the build-up of diseases such as club root.
4. Water Management
A vigorous Catch and Cover crop will provide excellent ground cover that will significantly
reduce soil moisture loss due to evaporation during the summer. The water holding capacity of
soil can be considerably improved as a result of an increase in humus content produced by the
use of a Catch and Cover crop. For example increasing the soil humus content by 0.5% can lead
to soil being able to hold an additional 70 m3 of water per ha whilst improvements in soil
structure will improve the rate at which soil drains.
5. Reduced risk of soil erosion
The presence of a Catch and Cover crop with a strong root structure and good ground cover
will significantly reduce the risk of soil erosion whilst a crop is growing as well as over the
longer term. This is of particular importance on fens and light, sandy soils.
6. Weed Control
Catch and Cover crops perform an excellent role in suppressing weeds and volunteers by
smothering them with their dense canopies and vigorous growth. Companion seeding between crops
can reduce the requirement for herbicides.
7. Bees and Insects
Catch and Cover crops can provide a much needed and plentiful source of late fodder for bees
and other beneficial insects.
8. Bio Mass
As well as improving the yield potential of other crops, Catch and Cover crops can provide a direct tangible benefit by improving the bio mass available for AD plants and silage for livestock.
Phacelia is not related to the major agricultural crop types and belongs to the Hydrophylloideae family. As such this makes it an ideal catch crop, especially for arable rotations containing Oilseed Rape, where including radish and mustard could be problematic. Rapidly establishing and deep rooted, Phacelia performs an excellent role in reducing soil erosion and improving soil structure. It can perform a valuable role in controlling club root as it is not a host plant for this disease. Phacelia can also contribute to the management of slugs.
Incredibly vigorous, with a wide sowing window and very high biomass yield, Rye is the ideal low input catch crop to precede a late spring sown crop.
Rapidly establishes high yields of biomass and has a beneficial effect on reducing Root Lesion and Stubby Root Knot Nematode. Faster establishing than annual ryegrass Saia Oats are ideal for weed suppression and reducing soil erosion, making them an ideal choice for light of sandy soils.
Oil Radish combines early establishment with a vigorous growth habit, deep root structure and dense foliage. Depending on the variety chosen, oil radish can contribute significantly to the management of soil borne pests and diseases such as Beet Cyst Nematodes, Root Knot Nematode and Tobacco Rattle Virus.
White (Forage) Mustard such as ASCOT has been used for many years by farmers as a cheap, easy and effective short term catch crop following the cereal harvest. In addition to the classical white mustard segment, farmers are now able to select varieties such as MASTER that can be very effective in controlling soil borne diseases such as Beet Cyst Nematode (BCN). In addition both types of mustard can play an important role in reducing levels of rhizoctonia in the soil whilst their ability to assist in the control of soil borne pathogens in the horticultural industry is attracting strong interest from growers looking for an alternative to methylbromide.
Individual catch crops can significantly improve the efficiency and output of an overall rotation. Working closely with farmers and growers, SAATEN UNION'S catch crop specialists at PH PETERSEN have successfully developed a number of specialist mixes that combine different catch crop species to excellent effect in a range of Green Manure blends.
Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Vegetable Specialist
Crop Manager - Break and Cover Crops
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