Management of vegetable crop residues for reducing nitrate leaching losses in intensive vegetable rotations

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal
    What management strategies for reducing nitrogen losses from crop residues in horticulture are economically and technically feasible? Can we mechanically collect crop residues on the field and apply them as feedstock for composting, silage or anaerobic digestion?

    Research approach
    In long-term experiments we investigate the potential of including either non-vegetable crops or cover crops in crop rotations. In the short-term experiments we assess 3 strategies of crop residue management: 1) comparison of conventional crop residue incorporation with no-incorporation or total removal of crop residues; 2) mixing of crop residues with a number of immobilizing materials prior to incorporation into soil; 3) the potential of cover crops. In the crop residue removal scenario we assess the potential of ensilaging or composting followed by reapplication of crop residues.

    In this research some novel strategies for vegetable crop residue management are being investigated. The outcome of this work will help in defining the best practices in vegetable production in order to better meet the requirements set by the nitrate directive, whilst making best use of valuable organic material.
    Effective start/end date1/09/121/07/14