while winter crops are planted for a variety of reasons...
their primary role is to prevent soil erosion and suppress weed growth. With a growing awareness of the environmental impacts of nitrogen saturation in agricultural soils (i.e. soil N in great excess of crop demands), winter cover crops are now also encouraged for the purposes of retaining the N in the field. The general intention of planting cover crops under nitrogen saturation conditions is minimize losses via denitrification and ammonia volatilization to atmosphere, and runoff and leaching transport to water resources.
In this project I simultaneously measured nitrous oxide emissions and nitrate leaching from different cover crop types to characterize the net environmental benefit of cover crops in terms of nitrogen.