UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Cover crops long have been touted for their ability to reduce erosion, fix atmospheric nitrogen, reduce nitrogen leaching and improve soil health, but they also may play an important role in mitigating the effects of climate change on agriculture, according to a Penn State researcher.
Climate-change mitigation and adaptation may be additional, important ecosystem services provided by cover crops, said Jason Kaye, professor of soil biogeochemistry in the College of Agricultural Sciences. He suggested that the climate-change mitigation potential of cover crops is significant, comparable to other practices, such as no-till.
"Many people have been promoting no-till as a climate-mitigation tool, so finding that cover crops are comparable to no-till means there is another valuable tool in the toolbox for agricultural climate mitigation," he said.
In a recent issue of Agronomy for Sustainable Development -- the official journal of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, Europe's top agricultural research institute and the world's number two center for the agricultural sciences -- Kaye contends that cover cropping can be an adaptive management tool to maintain yields and minimize nitrogen losses as the climate warms.