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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CONSERVATION SYSTEMS RESEARCH FOR IMPROVING ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY AND PRODUCER PROFITABILITY

Location: National Soil Dynamics Laboratory

Title: Winter cover biomass production and soil penetrability

Authors
item Arriaga, Francisco
item PRICE, ANDREW
item DONOGHUE, ANN

Submitted to: Southern Conservation Tillage Systems Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 25, 2006
Publication Date: June 27, 2006
Citation: Arriaga, F.J., Price, A.J., Raper, R.L. 2006. Winter cover biomass production and soil penetrability. In: Proceedings of the Southern Conservation Tillage Systems Conference. USDA-ARS Conservation and Production Research Laboratory, Report No.06-1, Bushland, Texas. p. 211-216.

Interpretive Summary: Winter cover crops can benefit crop production in southeastern U.S. Winter cover crops, such as rye, can reduce weed pressure, increase water infiltration, and improve soil quality over a long period of time. There is a lack of information on the effect of cover amount on soil properties. This study focused on looking at the relationship of cover residue amount and soil compaction. Different levels growth of the winter cover were obtained by planting and killing the cover crop at different times. These left different amounts of residue on the soil surface. Soil compaction was reduced with increasing residue amount. Low amounts of reside did not result in decreased compaction. Winter cover crops can effectively be used to improve soil conditions for crop production in combination with other conservation agriculture practices, such as reduced tillage.

Technical Abstract: Winter cover crops can benefit production systems in the southeastern US. Winter cover crops, such as rye (Secale cereale) can reduce weed pressure, increase water infiltration, and improve soil quality over a long period of time. Although several studies have focused on the effects of having a winter cover present, none have focused on studying the effect of different biomass amounts. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of rye biomass amounts on soil penetrability. Using different rye planting dates and termination times, several levels of biomass were obtained. Soil penetrability, as measured with a penetrometer, was improved with increasing biomass amount. Low rye biomass amounts did not result in decreased cone index values. Winter cover crops can effectively be used to improve soil conditions for crop production in combination with other conservation agriculture practices, such as non-inversion tillage.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014