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Individual study: Benefits of growing potatoes under cover crops in a Mediterranean climate

Published source details

Eshel G., Egozi R., Goldwasser Y., Kashti Y., Fine P., Hayut E., Kazukro H., Rubin B., Dar Z., Keisar O. & DiSegni D.M. (2015) Benefits of growing potatoes under cover crops in a Mediterranean climate. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 211, 1-9


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Water: Grow cover crops in arable fields Mediterranean Farmland

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2011–2014 in irrigated potato fields in Israel found less runoff from plots with cover crops, compared to bare soil. Water availability: No runoff was measured in some plots with cover crops, but up to 1.5 litres of runoff/second were measured in plots with bare soil (in 2011; no statistical comparisons were made for any years). Methods: Different plots were used in different years (2011–2012: 350 m2 plots, 20 plots with cover crops, eight plots without cover crops; 2012–2013: 695 m2 plots, 10 with, 10 without; 2013–2014: 1,800 m2 plots, four with, four without). Different mixtures of cover crops were used in different years, but oats were used in all years, and triticale was used in Years 1 and 2 (2011–2013). Plots without cover crops were weeded (tilled bare; some plots in all years) or weedy (not tilled; some plots in Year 1). Herbicide and fertilizer were used on all plots. Water was measured in runoff channels, after each rainfall event (one HS flume/plot). Plots had a 5–7% slope.

 

Pest regulation: Grow cover crops in arable fields Mediterranean Farmland

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2011–2014 in irrigated potato fields in Israel found fewer weeds in plots with cover crops, compared to bare soil, both in the potato-growing season and also in the winter. Pest numbers: During the potato-growing season, fewer weeds were found in plots with cover crops, compared to bare soil, for one of five cover crops (oats and vetch, 60 days after planting potatoes, in 2011–2012: 11 vs 44 weeds/m2; data not reported for other cover crops or other years). During the cover-cropping season, fewer weeds were found in plots with cover crops, compared to bare soil, for all mixtures of cover crops (2–26 vs 36–82 weeds/m2; data not reported for other years). Less weed biomass was found in plots with cover crops, compared to bare soil (2013–2014: 5–20 vs 505 g/m2; data not reported for other years). Implementation options: During the potato-growing season, fewer weeds were found in plots that were cover cropped with oats and vetch, compared to canola (11 vs 43 weeds/m2), but difference between these and other cover crops were not significant. During the cover-cropping season, similar numbers of weeds were found in plots with different mixtures of cover crops (2–26 weeds/m2). Methods: Different plots were used in different years (2011–2012: 350 m2 plots, 20 plots with cover crops, eight plots without cover crops; 2012–2013: 695 m2 plots, 10 with, 10 without; 2013–2014: 1,800 m2 plots, four with, four without). Different mixtures of cover crops were used in different years, but oats were used in all years, and triticale was used in Years 1 and 2 (2011–2013). Plots without cover crops were weeded (tilled bare; some plots in all years) or weedy (not tilled; some plots in Year 1). Fertilizer and herbicide (after cover crops, before potato emergence) were used on all plots. Weeds were sampled in 0.25 m2 round quadrats (1–3 quadrats/plot).

 

Crop production: Grow cover crops in arable fields Mediterranean Farmland

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2011–2014 in irrigated potato fields in Israel found similar crop yields in plots with or without cover crops. Crop yield: Similar potato yields were found in plots with or without cover crops (oats: 4.4–8.0 vs 4.9–8.0 kg/m2; data not presented for other cover crops). Methods: Different plots were used in different years (2011–2012: 350 m2 plots, 20 plots with cover crops, eight plots without cover crops; 2012–2013: 695 m2 plots, 10 with, 10 without; 2013–2014: 1,800 m2 plots, four with, four without). Different mixtures of cover crops were used in different years, but oats were used in all years, and triticale was used in Years 1 and 2 (2011–2013). Plots without cover crops were weeded (tilled bare; some plots in all years) or weedy (not tilled; some plots in Year 1). Herbicide and fertilizer were used on all plots. Potatoes were planted under mown cover crops. Potato yields were sampled in 5 m2/plot.

 

Soil: Grow cover crops in arable fields Mediterranean Farmland

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2011–2014 in irrigated potato fields in Israel found less soil erosion in plots with cover crops, compared to bare soil. Soil erosion and aggregation: Less erosion was found in plots with cover crops, compared to bare soil (2012–2013: 0.1–0.3 vs 3.5–4.5 mm soil loss). Methods: Different plots were used in different years (2011–2012: 350 m2 plots, 20 plots with cover crops, eight plots without cover crops; 2012–2013: 695 m2 plots, 10 with, 10 without; 2013–2014: 1,800 m2 plots, four with, four without). Different mixtures of cover crops were used in different years, but oats were used in all years, and triticale was used in Years 1 and 2 (2011–2013). Plots without cover crops were weeded (tilled bare; some plots in all years) or weedy (not tilled; some plots in Year 1). Herbicide and fertilizer were used on all plots. Soil loss was measured in buckets, after each rainfall event (one 10 litre bucket/plot). Plots had a 5–7% slope.