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  The role of cover crops for cropland soil carbon, nitrogen leaching, and agricultural yields – a global simulation study with LPJmL (V. 5.0-tillage-cc)

Porwollik, V., Rolinski, S., Heinke, J., von Bloh, W., Schaphoff, S., Müller, C. (2022): The role of cover crops for cropland soil carbon, nitrogen leaching, and agricultural yields – a global simulation study with LPJmL (V. 5.0-tillage-cc). - Biogeosciences, 19, 3, 957-977.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-19-957-2022

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Porwollik, Vera1, Author              
Rolinski, Susanne1, Author              
Heinke, Jens1, Author              
von Bloh, Werner1, Author              
Schaphoff, Sibyll1, Author              
Müller, Christoph1, Author              
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1Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, ou_persistent13              

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 Abstract: Land management practices can reduce the environmental impact of agricultural land use and production, improve productivity, and transform cropland into carbon sinks. In our study we assessed the biophysical and biogeochemical impacts and the potential contribution of cover crop practices to sustainable land use. We applied the process-based, global dynamic vegetation model LPJmL (Lund–Potsdam–Jena managed Land) V. 5.0-tillage-cc with a modified representation of cover crops to simulate the growth of grasses on cropland in periods between two consecutive main crops' growing seasons for near-past climate and land use conditions. We quantified simulated responses of agroecosystem components to cover crop cultivation in comparison to bare-soil fallowing practices on global cropland for a period of 50 years. For cover crops with tillage, we obtained annual global median soil carbon sequestration rates of 0.52 and 0.48 t C ha−1 yr−1 for the first and last decades of the entire simulation period, respectively. We found that cover crops with tillage reduced annual nitrogen leaching rates from cropland soils by medians of 39 % and 54 % but also the productivity of the following main crop by an average of 1.6 % and 2 % for the 2 analyzed decades. The largest reductions in productivity were found for rice and modestly lowered ones for maize and wheat, whereas the soybean yield revealed an almost homogenously positive response to cover crop practices replacing bare-soil fallow periods. The obtained simulation results of cover crop with tillage practices exhibit a good ability of the model version to reproduce observed effects reported in other studies. Further, the results suggest that having no tillage is a suitable complementary practice to cover crops, enhancing soil carbon sequestration and the reduction in nitrogen leaching, while reducing potential trade-offs with the main-crop productivity due to their impacts on soil nitrogen and water dynamics. The spatial heterogeneity of simulated impacts of cover crops on the variables assessed here was related to the time period since the introduction of the management practice as well as to environmental and agronomic conditions of the cropland. This study supports findings of other studies, highlighting the substantial potential contribution of cover crop practices to the sustainable development of arable production.

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 Dates: 2022-01-022022-02-152022-02-15
 Publication Status: Finally published
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.5194/bg-19-957-2022
MDB-ID: yes - 3291
PIKDOMAIN: RD2 - Climate Resilience
PIKDOMAIN: RD1 - Earth System Analysis
Organisational keyword: RD2 - Climate Resilience
Organisational keyword: RD1 - Earth System Analysis
Working Group: Land Use and Resilience
Research topic keyword: Food & Agriculture
Research topic keyword: Land use
Research topic keyword: Mitigation
Regional keyword: Global
Model / method: LPJmL
OATYPE: Gold Open Access
 Degree: -

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Title: Biogeosciences
Source Genre: Journal, SCI, Scopus, p3, oa
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Pages: - Volume / Issue: 19 (3) Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 957 - 977 Identifier: CoNE: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/cone/journals/resource/journals47
Publisher: Copernicus