Cover crops under maize to manage excess water and erosion in NW England

In the UK, an increasing maize cropping area and more frequent, more intense rainfall events are accelerating soil erosion and compaction, potentially exacerbating the impacts of flooding and diffuse pollution. Researchers at Lancaster University are assessing whether under-sowing cover crop mixtures in maize affect soil water retention and movement, and soil strength as assessed by penetrometer profiles.

The detrimental impact of last year’s maize harvest on our field trial in Cumbria highlighted the need for early establishment of cover crops to achieve durable cover during the winter months. Mesocosm scale experiments will assess the effect of soil water availability on cover crop ground coverage and rhizosheath development, to identify suitable cover crop combinations. These findings will help develop best management practices for soil growing maize.

Contact: Cristina McBride-Serrano (

This post is part of SHui’s August Newsletter.