Big differences in wheat biomass showing after catch crops

Updated: May 27

A major new project being carried out by RAGT looking to identify potential beneficial effects of catch crops on following winter wheats is producing some stark differences in crop biomass.


The trials, part of a range of innovative work on show at next month’s RAGT open days near Ickleton, Cambridgeshire, aims to discover whether certain catch crop/wheat variety combinations might be better at reducing pests and diseases (eg nematodes, take-all) and enhancing crop performance through improved soil heath and, increasingly important, nitrogen capture.


The catch crops were established in mid September. Fourteen existing and pipeline winter wheats from RAGT’s portfolio were direct-drilled into these and a fallow plot in mid October. The catch crops were sprayed off a month later, giving them more time to condition soils and capture nitrogen.


Wheat growth and development through the season are being measured, and yield and quality will also be assessed.


Tom Dummett, RAGT’s cereal and OSR product manager, says: “We are seeing some significant differences in GAIs between varieties drilled into fallow and others drilled into catch crops, with Phacelia and RGT Nemaredux appearing to offer the most benefit when the readings were taken.


“It also seems that some varieties were more responsive to the overall effects of catch crops, but of course wheat varieties all have different GAIs anyway, so there is no clear picture yet when it comes to specific catch crop/variety relationships yet.


“It will be fascinating to piece all the results together at the end of the season, including yield and quality data, to see what we might discover. It’s a bit of a look-see at this stage and we will refine protocols as we go forward in what will be a long-term trial looking at both first and second wheats covering a range of seasons.”


Catch crops:

Nematode-resistant oilseed radish

Phacelia

Ethiopian mustard

Biofum summer plus (nematode-resistant oilseed radish plus white, brown and Ethiopian mustard)

RGT Nemaredux (nematode-resistant oilseed radish, phacelia plus Trio Rocket Lettuce)

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