Externally funded project

Crop sequences for optimized use of soil resources: combining allorhizous and homorhizous species for complementary root growth in topsoil and subsoil (MIKODU)

Project Details
Project duration: 10/201809/2021


The main objective of the project is closing yield gaps in organic
agriculture by optimizing the mobilisation of water and nutrients from
the solid phase of the soil. The basis for this is promoting extensive
root systems via creating a soil structure that is beneficial for soil
microbiology and root growth. Catch crops and precrops will be grown

(i)              increase fine pores in shallow soil depths with homorhizous root systems or

(ii)            create access paths to deeper soil layers with taproots or

(iii)          integrate the effects of both root systems in mixed cropping systems.

With this optimization of subsoil structure, microbial activity and
root extension of following crops into the subsoil will be increased,
helping following crops to exploit water and nutrient reserves of the
subsoil. Besides effects on soil structure, the different decomposition
rates of the roots of the mixture partners will be considered, aiming at
balanced nutrient supply for the following crops. The subgoals of the
project are

-        promoting root growth and nutrient acquisition of following
crops via soil structuring by perennial fodder cropping with mixed
growth of species with a pronounced taproot and species with intensive
fibrous root systems (WP 1)

-        identification of catch crops that promote root growth of
following crops as described above and additionally allow balanced
mineralization of nutrients taken up over winter (WP 2)

-        use of intensively rooting pre- and catch crops to break up
yield limiting soil compaction in agricultural headlands (WP 3).

The project results will then be demonstrated to farmers, to optimize
crop sequences with respect to the utilization of top- and subsoil

Principal Investigator

Last updated on 2019-17-04 at 11:12