Sustainable farming systems have recently gained significant interest, which reflects the need to protect biodiversity and maintain environmental balance. One of the strategies involves the use of catch crops. Catch crops can be grown in all agricultural systems, but they are particularly recommended for organic and sustainable farming. The aim of this review article was to discuss the functions performed by catch crops, with particular emphasis on their role in weed and disease control, effects on soil fertility, and the yield and chemical composition. Many plant species can be used as catch crops, which should be characterized by rapid growth in early stages of development and allelopathic properties. Popular catch crop species are Sinapis alba, Phacelia tanacetifolia and Lupinus luteus L., Vicia faba L., Vicia villosa Roht., Trifolium pratense L., Trifolium repens L., Medicago lupulina – plants from the family Leguminosae. Intercropping contributes to lower weed pressure and improves plant health by decreasing the incidence of stem base, leaf and spike diseases. Therefore, catch crops can help minimize the use of pesticides, and alleviate the adverse effects of cereal monoculture. The effectiveness of catch crops is influenced by the main crop, the type and plants of catch crops, the type of pathogen/pest and weed species, habitat conditions. Catch crop biomass incorporated into the soil improves crop efficiency and quality by increasing the availability of biogenic elements required for the growth and development of main crops.
Żuk-Gołaszewska K., Wanic M., Orzech K. 2019. The role of catch crops in in the field plant production – a review. J. Elem., 24(2): 575 - 587. DOI: 10.5601/jelem.2018.23.3.1662