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 use of legumes and leguminous by-products within dairy systems is compared at Crichton Royal Farm: Home-grown feed, which is not purchased except minarals against fully purchased feedstuff - contrasing technical performance as well as GHG emissions and nutrient use efficiencies are expected to arise from the diets, genotypes and housing systems containing leguminous co-products or legumes grown in the UK.
We investigate a range of innovative ways of using legumes to build soil fertility in glasshouses and polytunnels like using fast growing species of green manures that can be sown directly in the soil. We will evaluate the potential of a number of legume species.
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.
Recent research has shown that the carbon footprint of milk produced on Irish dairy farms is approximately 1.23 kg CO2eq. per litre of fat and protein corrected milk. The objective is evaluate the feasibility of a Low Carbon System of milk production where emissions per litre of FPCM are substantially lowered, while maintaining current levels of milk output per ha and profitability.