Submitted to: Maine Potato Conference Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/9/2010
Publication Date: 1/20/2010
Citation: Honeycutt, C.W., Trusty, G.M. 2010. Nitrogen catch crops. Maine Potato Conference Abstracts. page 18.
Technical Abstract: High costs of nitrogen (N) fertilizer and the potential for N losses to ground and surface water have resulted in increased interest in using catch crops to recover this N. Research on potatoes has shown that the amount of N lost to leaching can be as much as the amount of N removed from the field via tubers. In the Northeast, most of this leaching occurs during a critical time period from September-December. Although Maine’s short growing season presents numerous challenges for establishing and growing catch crops, some opportunities do appear to exist. One of the most important factors influencing N recovery by cover crops is rooting depth. Radish, in particular, has a deep root system and is a very effective scavenger for N. Cereal rye and sorghum-sudangrass are also notable for recovering relatively high amounts of N from the soil. Other crops that recover intermediate levels of N include annual rye, barley, oats, wheat, canola, and rapeseed. These and other crops appear to have potential for helping growers recover and recycle N on their farms.