Can companion crops cut spring barley’s carbon footprint?

Using companion crops to manipulate grain nitrogen levels in spring barley is the subject of a new trial at RAGT’s demonstration field this season.

Two large blocks of RGT Planet and RGT Asteroid have been overlaid by a matrix of fallow and nitrogen-fixing companion crops. In addition, standard and reduced nitrogen applications are being used on each of the resulting plots.

The aim is to discover what interactions might exist between variety, companion crop and nitrogen dose, and what further work might be needed, to produce guidelines to help growers manipulate grain nitrogen to suit various end-use purposes while reducing reliance on nitrogen fertilisers.

Tom Dummett - OSR & Cereals Manager

RAGT’s Tom Dummett says: “We embarked on a major project last autumn to see if cover crops can help reduce the carbon footprint of wheat production, and what varietal differences might exist, to help meet changing support payment criteria and help farming meet its zero requirements.

“We know that nitrogen fertiliser is the biggest contributor to a farm’s carbon footprint, so it seemed sensible to extend this work to spring barley production as well, even though we use less nitrogen to grow the crop.

“We can also see the day when end users will be paying a lot more attention to carbon footprints of farm commodities, so it makes sense to do the work now, so that we can share any positive findings with growers to help them meet their customers’ requirements.”

78 views0 comments