Multifunctional legumes for organic cropping systems
The project used field experiments during three years to evaluate the following agroecosystem services: biomass production, symbiotic N2 fixation and pre-crop effect of different legume-grass mixtures managed under low and high cutting frequency. Medicago sativa (lucerne) expressed high productivity when grown under low cutting frequency, both in pure stand and when intercropped with the grass cocksfoot Dactylis gomerata (cocksfoot) or Phleum pratense (timothy). Lotus corniculatus (birdsfoot trefoil) appeared to be more tolerant to a high cutting frequency, and contributed to high biomass production when grown in mixture with timothy. One of the more species-rich mixtures, composed of three legume and three grass species, showed particularly high potential for biomass yield during the two-year sequence in the studied low-input cropping system, both under low and high cutting frequency. The project has demonstrated that such species-rich perennial legume-grass mixtures will provide a range of valuable ecosystem services if integrated in stockless organic cropping systems.
Project responsible: Erik Steen Jensen, project leader: assistant professor Georg Carlsson, project staff: Erik Steen Jensen, other staff: research assistant Nawa Raj Dhamala