Catch crops

Ten advantages

Catch crop cultivation is an important element of arable farming for sustainably improving soil fertility and for guaranteeing an even humus balance for the location.

The ten most important advantages of catch crops are:

  • Humus development: The cultivation of catch crops increases the soil's humus content and encourages biological activity in the soil. This improves and maintains soil fertility. The longer the vegetation period of the catch crops, the greater the humus formation.
  • Erosion protection: Continuous soil coverage protects the soil against wind and water erosion.
  • Soil improvement: Catch crops quickly take root deeper and spread out more widely than most main crops. This enables compacted soil to be loosened and nutrient resources to be tapped from deeper soil layers. The soil's water capacity and also the soil condition are improved.
  • Nutrient preservation: The nutrients remaining in the soil after the harvest are preserved in the organic substance of catch crops and are then released again in spring for the follow-on crop after the catch crop dies off.
  • Nitrate leaching: Nitrate is very mobile in the soil and is absorbed by catch crops, thereby reducing nitrate leaching. The nitrogen stored in the catch crop is then available to the follow-up crop in the spring.
  • Weed suppression: If the vegetation cover is closed quickly by catch crops, volunteer grain as well as weed and grass weed seeds can be suppressed and prevented from growing.
  • Nematode control: Nematode-resistant mustard and oilseed radish varieties can be used for biological pest control.
  • Biomass use: For cattle farms and biogas plant operators, hardy catch crops (particularly grasses) offer an additional use for the growth in the spring.
  • Mulch seeding: Freezing catch crops form a good layer of mulch for sowing the main crops.
  • Nitrogen fixation: An improved nutrient supply in the soil is obtained based on the biological nitrogen fixation by legumes.

Tip from the experts

Varieties that are cultivated as a main crop should be avoided in catch crop mixes.