DOI: 10.3390/agriculture13091714 ISSN:

A Meta-Analysis Approach to Estimate the Effect of Cover Crops on the Grain Yield of Succeeding Cereal Crops within European Cropping Systems

Mohamed Allam, Emanuele Radicetti, Mortadha Ben Hassine, Aftab Jamal, Zainul Abideen, Roberto Mancinelli
  • Plant Science
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Food Science

Farming practices such as cover cropping, crop rotation systems, and soil tillage practices, along with climate conditions and soil type play important roles in determining final crop production. Numerous empirical studies have documented the heterogeneous effects of cover crops on the yield of successive crops, exhibiting variations across diverse regions, climate regimes, soil characteristics, cover crop types, and agricultural management practices. A meta-analysis was conducted to comprehensively summarize and evaluate the impact of cover crops (CCs) in the agroecosystem. The main goal of the study is to promote a transition towards more sustainable cereal crop production by exploring the potential of currently unexploited CCs in Europe. The study demonstrated that the incorporation of legume CCs resulted in the most pronounced and statistically significant increase in grain yield among cereal crops. CCs from the Brassicaceae family also demonstrated a positive impact on grain yield under southern European climates. Cover cropping had a positive effect on the subsequent cash crop under conventional tillage practice. A positive, but not significant impact, was detected under both conservation tillage practices, which include reduced tillage (RT) and no-till (NT). The result of the study suggests that NT practices are more suitable for Northern Europe, while RT practices are preferable for Southern Europe zones. This study indicates that the adoption of cover cropping represents a viable and effective agronomic strategy for enhancing grain yield in cereal crops cultivated across European agricultural systems.

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