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Research article2014Peer reviewed

Freezing-thawing effects on phosphorus leaching from catch crops

Liu, Jian; Ulen, Barbro; Bergkvist, Goran; Aronsson, Helena


It is suggested that catch crops can be grown to reduce phosphorus (P) losses. However, after exposure to freezing-thawing cycles (FTCs), catch crop material can become a source of P losses to waters in moderately cold climates. This study screened potential P leaching from intact plant material of eight catch crop species: chicory (Chichorium intybus L.), cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata L.), perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), red clover (Trifolium pratense L.), phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia L.), white mustard (Sinapis alba L.), oilseed radish (Raphanus sativus L. oleiformis), and white radish (R. longipinnatus). The catch crops were grown in six field experiments on clay soils, where soil lysimeters (0.25 m deep) with intact crops were extracted in autumn and after used for leaching experiments before and after seven FTCs in the laboratory. The eight catch crops did not reduce P leaching before FTCs. After FTCs, leachate total-P concentration from ryegrass, oilseed radish and red clover lysimeters were significantly (p=0.0022) higher than those from the other species and the control without a catch crop. FTCS significantly (p= 0.0064) altered total-P concentration and the proportions of different forms of P. There was a significant increase in total-P concentration in leachate from ryegrass (p=0.0008) and oilseed radish (p= 0.02). Thus, the potential risk of P leaching from ryegrass and oilseed radish material after FTCs must ne considered, since they are commonly grown as nitrogen catch crops in the Nordic countries. Morever, the roots of the tested catch crops contained 7-86 % total-P, which is important when ealuating O leaching risks.


Cover crop; Cropping system; Freezing-thawing cycle; Lysimeter; Phosphorus leaching; Water quality

Published in

Nutrient cycling in agroecosystems
2014, Volume: 99, number: 1-3, pages: 17-30