A new European research project, which started in April 2012, will develop novel cropping systems based on cover crops and living mulches. The 4 year project, OSCAR , brings together 20 partners from 11 countries and is led by University of Kassel, Germany. OSCAR aims to Optimise Subsidiary Crop Application in Rotations in order to increase the duration of soil coverage by plants, to introduce diversity to the crop rotation and to reduce the need for and the intensity of soil tillage. Particular attention is given to conservation tillage systems.
Both conventional and organic agricultural systems are considered in the research project to maximise the potential of ecological benefits of cover crops and living mulches and to offer a rapid transfer into practical agriculture. Cover crops such as white clover or subterranean clover have multiple functions in agriculture, e.g. to protect the soil against erosion, and to increase soil fertility.
ORC will lead the dissemination activities in OSCAR and will develop a toolbox for using cover crops and living mulches. Other work packages in the project will select novel germplasm for use as cover crops, will develop new farm machinery for cover cropping systems, and will investigate plant pests and diseases in cover crops.
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