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DaLeA is an on-farm trial conducted under practical conditions but linked to scientific research. The sowing and crop management takes place with practice machines. However, sampling and data collection are done using scientific methods. You can find out more about the research approach and test setup here.

research approach

The core of the cultivation system is the complete absence of tillage. All crop rotation links are sown directly into the previously established clover using a seed drill specially adapted for this purpose (based on the Primera DMC from AMAZONE). In order to be able to scientifically examine the effects of the cultivation system, a variant with clover as living mulch and a conventionally managed variant in mirrored large plots are compared on three plots with different crop rotation elements.


Central questions in the different project phases are:


Can clover as a living mulch reduce nitrate leaching and thus implement efficient N fertilization in conventional no-till cultivation systems?


Can living mulch reduce the use of herbicides and other plant protection products?


What influence does the long-term viability have on the water balance in the soil and thus on the water supply of the cultivated plants?


How does the permanent living mulch affect the microclimate in the stand and can effects be determined with regard to the CO2 balance?


Does the establishment of living mulch have a positive economic effect and how is this to be assessed in the long term?

experimental setup

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The 9 m wide large plots are planted using GPS and RTK-supported sowing with a specially developed seed drill in the established clover stand. Harvesting is carried out with a plot combine harvester perpendicular to the sowing direction. Application windows with different herbicide and fungicide measures are created in all test fields in order to be able to record and evaluate potential savings. Furthermore, special soil measuring sleeves have been installed on all test plots to record the water content of the soil down to a depth of 110 cm.

measurement methods

To record the nitrate levels in the soil, soil samples are taken monthly in all plots and analyzed in the laboratory Gobio GmbH (Nmin laboratory method A and evaluated by Agrolab (with additional leaf analyses). In addition, the degree of nitrogen supply of the crop plants is recorded by measuring the chlorophyll content (N tester).

Parallel to this, the volumetric water content is determined weekly using specially installed measuring probes down to a depth of approx. 1m.

The microclimate in the population, in particular the H2O and CO2 concentrations, are recorded using gas exchange measuring hoods with special sensors (EGM-5 Portable CO2 Gas Analyzer) and read out regularly.

Potential savings in resources (fertilizer, crop protection, fuel) are recorded in the course of an intensive evaluation of the comprehensive field register. These are set in relation to the harvest results determined in exact harvesting (core threshing with a test combine).

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