This review analyzes the effect of catch crops on the chemical, physical and biological properties of the soil environment. Catch crops deliver environmental benefits, and they are widely recommended by programs which promote environmentall friendly agricultural practices. Plant species (such as white mustard and phacelia) characterized by rapid growth in early stages of development as well as low soil and nutrient requirements are best suited for the role of catch crops. The aim of this study was to determine the influence of catch crops on the content of organic carbon (C) and nutrients in soil, the factors that determine the rate of organic matter decomposition in soil. Catch crops can limit the migration of nutrients (in particular nitrogen – N and phosphorus - P) into deeper soil layers, and they influence soil pH, the physical parameters of soil such as compaction, porosity, water content and temperature, and the biological and enzymatic activity of soil. Catch crops play very important roles in agricultural ecosystems, and their influence is determined mainly by habitat conditions (weather and soil parameters), plant species, biomass volume and agronomic factors. Catch crops increase the organic carbon content of soil, they limit nutrient leaching (in particular nitrogen and phosphorus) into deeper soil horizons, decrease soil compaction, improve soil aeration and soil water relations, increase soil porosity, improve soil structure, enhance microbial and enzymatic activity in soil. Catch crops increase agricultural production in all climates, soils and farming systems.
Wanic M., Żuk-Gołaszewska K., Orzech K. 2019. Catch crops and the soil environment – a review of the literature. J. Elem., 24(1): 31 - 45. DOI: 10.5601/jelem.2018.23.3.1638