What are the catch crops of a rice field

Catch crops

Catch crop cultivation is an important part of arable farming in order to sustainably improve soil fertility and ensure a balanced humus balance at the site.

The top ten benefits of catch crops are:

  • Humus formation: The cultivation of catch crops increases the humus content of the soil and promotes biological activity in the soil. This improves and maintains soil fertility. The longer the vegetation period of the catch crops, the stronger the humus formation
  • Erosion protection: Continuous soil cover protects the soil from wind and water erosion.
  • Soil improvement: catch crops take root deeper and more widely than most main crops in a short time. So soil compaction can be loosened and nutrient resources from deeper soil layers can be tapped. The water capacity of the soil and the soil quality are improved.
  • Nutrient conservation: The nutrients remaining in the soil after harvesting are preserved in the organic matter of catch crops and are released again in spring for the next crop after the catch crops die.
  • Nitrate leaching: Nitrate that is very mobile in the soil is absorbed by catch crops and thus the nitrate leaching is reduced. The nitrogen stored in the catch crop is then available to the next crop in the spring.
  • Weed suppression: If the vegetation cover is closed quickly by catch crops, volunteer grain as well as weed and grass seeds can be suppressed and prevented from emerging.
  • Nematode control: Nematode-resistant yellow mustard and oil radish varieties can be used as biological pest control.
  • Use of biomass: For livestock farms and biogas plant operators, winter-hardy catch crops (especially grasses) can also be used in spring.
  • Mulch sowing: Freezing off catch crops form a good layer of mulch for sowing the main crops.
  • Nitrogen fixation: On the basis of the biological nitrogen fixation by legumes, an improved nutrient supply is achieved in the soil

Expert tip

Species that are grown as the main crop should be avoided in cover crop mixtures.