Breeding of green cover crops

Project Details


Main research question/goal
In this project we search for new species for potential use as a green cover crop, in addition to the known brassica species white mustard, fodder radish and fodder rape. We also aim to breed improved varieties. Green cover crops are agronomically and ecologically important for sustainable agriculture. They improve the carbon content of the soil, reduce the loss of nutrients to the deeper soil layers, stimulate soil biodiversity and protect soil against erosion. The diversity of farm types and multiple crops also calls for a diversity of species and varieties of green cover crops.

Research approach
We test the agricultural value of species and varieties of green cover crops in the field. We look for a strong germination and early vigour, good weed suppression capability and winter cover of the soil, and possible regrowth after winter. We also evaluate whether ploidy breeding can improve the performance of some of these green cover crops. We evaluate characteristics such as late flowering (for the farmers’ benefit) and high seed yield (for the seed companies’ benefit). We use the best genotypes to compose populations as the basis for new varieties.

Green cover crops deliver an added value in a more sustainable farming system. They improve the agronomic and ecological potential of farming. In addition to the soil and environmental benefits, we also try to enhance the favourable biotopes for honeybees and other wildlife with specific cover crop species. The new varieties of this project will be useful for both intensive agriculture and alternative forms of agriculture. With these we deliver a contribution to the agricultural sustainability and the agricultural biodiversity. Multifunctional green cover crops fit into multifunctional agriculture.
Effective start/end date1/01/12 → …

Flemish Discipline list

  • Phytopathology
  • Crop science
  • Agricultural plant breeding and biotechnology