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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 38 No. 4, p. 1410-1419
    Received: June 13, 2008

    * Corresponding author(s): juan.herrera@ipw.agrl.ethz.ch
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Leaching and Utilization of Nitrogen During a Spring Wheat Catch Crop Succession

  1. Juan M. Herrera * and
  2. Markus Liedgens
  1. Institute of Plant Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, Eschikon 33, CH-8315, Lindau, Zurich, Switzerland


An experiment covering a 2-yr spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) catch crop succession was conducted in lysimeters to account for the losses of N due to leaching. We sought to relate these losses to the N uptake of the main crop and to integrate the estimated N loss and uptake into a balance. The non-winter hardy catch crops [yellow mustard (Sinapis alba L.), Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia Benth), and sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.)] as well as bare soil fallow were studied at low and high N input levels of 4 and 29 g N m−2 yr−1, respectively. Catch crops allowed for an effective reduction of N leaching of 0.33 to 1.67 g N m−2 yr−1 compared to fallow. Reductions in N leaching were achieved mainly by avoiding the fallow period during autumn and winter while the catch crop species grown had little impact. During the spring wheat growing season, N leaching losses were highest after yellow mustard, the most effective catch crop for the entire crop succession. A balance of N indicated that the reductions in N leaching exerted by the catch crops did not result in a higher overall utilization of N by spring wheat. Thus, the efficacy shown by catch crops in reducing N leaching during growth is relatively lower when considering the entire crop succession. In addition, the N saved by growing catch crops does not increase N utilization by succeeding spring wheat.

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Copyright © 2009. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyAmerican Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America