A Functional Characterisation of a Wide Range of Cover Crop Species: Growth and Nitrogen Acquisition Rates, Leaf Traits and Ecological Strategies

http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0122156

Abstract

Cover crops can produce ecosystem services during the fallow period, as reducing nitrate leaching and producing green manure. Crop growth rate (CGR) and crop nitrogen acquisition rate (CNR) can be used as two indicators of the ability of cover crops to produce these services in agrosystems. We used leaf functional traits to characterise the growth strategies of 36 cover crops as an approach to assess their ability to grow and acquire N rapidly. We measured specific leaf area (SLA), leaf dry matter content (LDMC), leaf nitrogen content (LNC) and leaf area (LA) and we evaluated their relevance to characterise CGR and CNR. Lire la suite