Articles | Volume 19, issue 3
Research article
15 Feb 2022
Research article |  | 15 Feb 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)

Vera Porwollik, Susanne Rolinski, Jens Heinke, Werner von Bloh, Sibyll Schaphoff, and Christoph Müller

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Cited articles

Abdalla, M., Hastings, A., Cheng, K., Yue, Q., Chadwick, D., Espenberg, M., Truu, J., Rees, R. M., and Smith, P.: A critical review of the impacts of cover crops on nitrogen leaching, net greenhouse gas balance and crop productivity, Glob. Change Biol., 25, 2530–2543,, 2019. 
Alexander, P., Brown, C., Arneth, A., Finnigan, J., Moran, D., and Rounsevell, M. D. A.: Losses, inefficiencies and waste in the global food system, Agr. Syst., 153, 190–200,, 2017. 
Alonso-Ayuso, M., Gabriel, J. L., and Quemada, M.: The kill date as a management tool for cover cropping success, PLOS ONE, 9, e109587,, 2014. 
Alonso-Ayuso, M., Gabriel, J. L., Hontoria, C., Ibáñez, M. Á., and Quemada, M.: The cover crop termination choice to designing sustainable cropping systems, Eur. J. Agron., 114, 126000,, 2020. 
Batjes, N. H.: ISRIC-WISE derived soil properties on a 5 by 5 arc-minutes global grid (version 1.1), Report 2006/02, ISRIC – World Soil Information, Wageningen [with data set], (last access: 3 February 2022), 2006. 
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The study assesses impacts of grass cover crop cultivation on cropland during main-crop off-season periods applying the global vegetation model LPJmL (V.5.0-tillage-cc). Compared to simulated bare-soil fallowing practices, cover crops led to increased soil carbon content and reduced nitrogen leaching rates on the majority of global cropland. Yield responses of main crops following cover crops vary with location, duration of altered management, crop type, water regime, and tillage practice.
Final-revised paper