Leguminous living mulches have been shown to support a broad range of positive effects on biotic and abiotic indicators in broad-acre arable production, including soil health. With their nitrogen-fixing potential, they can also play a role in achieving sustainability goals and targets – for example, by naturally fixing nitrogen into the soil, they can help reduce dependence on artificial nitrogen fertiliser inputs, which in turn can reduce nitrous oxide emissions.
Challenges in managing leguminous living mulches like clover are the focus of this case study. After the second year, which was very different to the first, new insights are given by Stockbridge Technology Centre.
Leguminous living mulches present a potential ‘multifunctional’ solution that could provide benefits for arable production and the environment. The TRUE Case Study at STC aims to look at management of in-crop clover living mulches within crop growing seasons, and in a broad range of broad-acre crops. It evaluates the impacts of existing agronomic regimes and practices (against weeds, for example) on the living mulch and its subsequent impact on crop agronomy and soil health indicators.
The STC Case Study within TRUE will be looking at ways in which in-crop clover living mulches can be managed during crop growing seasons, with a particular attention to overcoming weed risks, enhancing soil organic matter / nitrogen content and generally improving the sustainability of cropping systems.