Adoption of cover crops for climate change mitigation in the EU
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In order to contribute to the EU's ambitions to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, different technological and management options are being analysed. Within the agricultural sector, catch and cover crops (CCC) are considered a viable option to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. CCC are crops grown for the protection of the agricultural land which would otherwise be bare against erosion and nutrient losses. They immobilise nitrogen such that it remains available in the soil after the harvest of the main crop for the next main crop. If managed correctly, catch and cover crops can... enhance climate change mitigation through soil carbon sequestration (building up the soil organic carbon content of the soil) and reducing emissions from fertiliser production. In this report, we conduct a survey for different case study regions in Europe (Castilla y León in Spain; Sud – Muntenia in Romania; Centre in France; and Overijssel in the Netherlands) focusing on the mitigation and adoption potential. From the survey results we observe that CCC are mainly grown after wheat, barley, silage maize or sunflower, the most popular species being ryegrasses, mustards, clovers, vetch, oats, phacelia and rye. In most cases CCC are sown after the harvest of the main crop, after a seedbed preparation, and adopters generally do not apply irrigation, N-fertilisation (mineral or organic) or crop protection. The termination of these crops is in most cases by ploughing or by using herbicides (glyphosate).