Nearly all Federal States of Germany now promote the cultivation of catch crops with grants: "To protect the soil against erosion and nutrient loss, to promote biological activity and soil structure and to protect groundwater," is for example the aim in Lower Saxony.
Nearly all Federal States of Germany now promote the cultivation of catch crops with grants: "To protect the soil against erosion and nutrient loss, to promote biological activity and soil structure and to protect groundwater," is for example the aim in Lower Saxony. The other Federal States also focus on protecting soil and groundwater, especially the latter, as it falls under the European Water Framework Directive.
Since the top growth is to remain on the soil surface, you can make your choice based fully on the species' and varieties' agronomic properties. Here are the main recommendations:
With its tolerance of late-seeding, its reliable germination in dry conditions and assured die-off under frost, is a true multi-talent. This catch crop is best cultivated in sugar beet crop rotations. Due to its unsurpassed ability to reduce nematodes, the ACCENT variety is the ideal cultivar.
To achieve the deepest soil penetration and the best remedial effect, oil radish is the most suitable catch crop. Certain varieties ("DEFENDER") tackle several nematode species and reduce the infestation of Rhizoctonia, Pythium and tobacco rattle virus.
For rapeseed crop rotations, phacelia is more suitable than oil radish and mustard, as this catch crop does not belong to the cruciferous family but to the borage family. The friability of the early freezing, thin-stalked plants predestine Phacelia mulch for almost any seeding technology.
With a view to the greening measures discussed earlier, ryegrasses are particularly suitable as a nurse crop for cereals and maize. The seeds are sown in autumn or spring together with the more thinly sown main crop, or with a pneumatic spreader until the main crop starts bolting. The nurse crop can be sown until the maize reaches the 6-leaf stage without disturbing the maize’s development. Here, too, late German ryegrasses are ideal.
With the nationwide significantly increased financial support, the benefits of growing a catch crop have increased even further. In addition, with increasingly changeable weather and rising fertiliser prices, a good soil structure and soil life are long-term investments. Be it drought, excessive soil moisture or barely enough fertiliser: soil porosity and its capacity for root penetration are becoming increasingly decisive for running a successful farming business.