OSCAR optimises Subsidiary Crop Application in Rotations (OSCAR) in order to increase the duration of soil coverage by plants, to introduce diversity to the crop rotation and to reduce the need for and the intensity of soil tillage. Particular attention is given to conservation tillage systems.
The project aims to develop improved conservation tillage systems, based on subsidiary crops (also known as cover crops), used both as living and dead mulch, that:
- increase the duration of soil coverage by plant canopies;
- minimize the need for soil tillage and redce tillage intensity;
- increase the diversity of species within the plant canopy and the rotation;
- reduce the need for fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides;
- in dry climates, conserve water and reduce need for irrigation.
OSCAR studies the key factors that influence the success of cover cropping systems, including cultivation methods, machinery and suitable plant genotypes. The research aims to develop targeted systems for the varied economic and ecological conditions in Europe and in the non-European participating countries. OSCAR assesses the ecological and economic impacts of the new cropping systems in both organic and conventional agriculture.
The core of the experimental programme is a set of coordinated field trials in 12 different environments, ranging from boreal climates in North Europe to Mediterranean and tropical subhumid climates.
The main output of the project will be a comprehensive, publically available knowledge base (Cover Crop and Living Mulch Toolbox), which will contain many user interactive elements and will be further developed after termination of the project.
For more information please visit the OSCAR website.