Influence of catch crop on soil properties and yield of spring barley

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Agrotechnology, University of Technology and Life Sciences, Bydgoszcz, Poland.

2 Department of Soil Science and Soil Protection, University of Technology and Life Sciences, Bydgoszcz, Poland.

3 Department of Entomology and Molecular Phytopathology, University of Technology and Life Sciences, Bydgoszcz, Poland.


Biomass of legumes grown as catch crops improves soil properties and thus soil
conditions for following crops. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of
field pea (Pisum sativum L.) grown as a catch crop and used for green manure on
soil properties and yielding of spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Field
experiments were conducted in 2008-2011 in the randomized block design with
four replications, in typical black earth. The experimental factor was the time and
way of catch crop incorporation: in autumn–with plowing (1); in the spring–with
disking (2); control–without a catch crop (3). The soil with the catch crop
contained significantly higher mineral nitrogen in the topsoil during tillering of
barley than the control. Catch crop caused significant decrease in soil moisture and
increase in penetration resistance in the topsoil in autumn. No significant effect of
the catch crop on soil moisture during spring barley growing season in the
following spring was obtained. Catch crop plowing in autumn caused significant
decrease in soil penetration resistance in the 20-30 cm layer in early spring. Catch
crop biomass plowed positively affected the number of spikes in sequential spring
barley. Leaving pea as mulch for winter caused significant increase in 1000 grain
weight compared to the control. Field pea grown as a catch crop for green manure
can be recommended for increasing mineral nitrogen concentration and the soil
biological activity in the topsoil. However, its influence on spring barley yield in
fertile soils is low.
Keywords: Green manure; Spring barley; Soil moisture; Penetration resistance;
Mineral N; Soil microbial activity.