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Optimise Subsidiary Crop Application in Rotations



Contract period:

1 April 2012 to 31 March 2016

Project webpage:

Main funder:


Contact staff at ORC:

Dr. Bruce Pearce

Other staff involved:

Dominic Amos, Sally Westaway

Project aims

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 reduce tillage intensity;
  • increase the diversity of species within the plant canopy and the rotation;
  • reduce the need for fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides; and
  • in dry climates, conserve water and reduce need for irrigation.

ORC's role

ORC will lead the dissemination activities in OSCAR and will develop a toolbox for using cover crops and living mulches. See The core of the experimental programme in OSCAR is a set of coordinated field trials in 12 different environments, ranging from boreal climates in North Europe to Mediterranean and tropical subhumid climates. ORC will host one of these trials.

Project leader and partners

  • University of Kassel Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences, Ecological Plant Protection group (KU, Germany). (project leader)
  • Research Station Agroscope ART Reckenholz-Tänikon (ART, Switzerland)
  • Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research, Plant Health and Plant Protection Division (BIOFORSK, Norway)
  • Agronomic Institute of Paraná (IAPAR, Brazil)
  • The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA, Morocco).
  • Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Morocco (INRA)
  • Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation (IUNG, Poland)
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU, Sweden)
  • Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (SSSA, Italy)
  • Technische Universität München (TUM, Germany)
  • University of Copenhagen (UCPH, Denmark)
  • Università di Pisa (UNIPI, Italy)
  • Universita' della Tuscia (UNITUS, Italy)
  • Wageningen University, Department of Plant Sciences (WU)
  • Arcoiris s.r.l (ARCOIRIS), Italy (SME)
  • Ferrari Costruzioni Mecchaniche s.r.l. (Ferrari, Italy) (SME)
  • Marangon Srl. (MAR, Italy) (SME)
  • P.H. Petersen Saatzucht Lundsgaard GmbH & Co. KG (PHP, Germany) (SME)
  • Friedrich Wenz GmbH (Wenz, Germany) (SME).


OSCAR, 2016. Optimising Subsidiary Crop Applications in Rotations, Final report. 39. pp. Available at:


Baresel P, Döring TF, Finckh MR. 2012. OSCAR – a new European project on cover crops. 12th Congress of the European Society for Agronomy Helsinki, Finland, 20-24 August 2012 (abstract, accepted).

Other output

Read article in ORC Bulletin 120 Spring/Summer 2016 Developing new cropping systems based around cover crops, catch crops and living mulches for use in low-tillage agriculture

Newsletter Issue 1, December 2012

OSCAR project leaflet. Download here (566kb pdf file)

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