Submitted to: National Sedimentaton Laboratory (NSL)- 50 Years of Soil & Water Research in a Changing Agricultural Environment
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 2, 2008
Publication Date: September 5, 2008
Citation: Hively, W.D., Lang, M., McCarty, G., Sadeghi, A. 2008. Use of remote sensing to monitor nutrient uptake by winter cover crops in the Choptank River Watershed [abstract]. National Sedimentation Laboratory - 50 years of Soil and Water Research in a Changing Agricultural Environment. 2008 CDROM. Technical Abstract: Winter cover crops are recognized as an important agricultural conservation practice for reducing nitrogen (N) losses to groundwater, and state cost-share programs have been established to promote winter cover crops on farms throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Remote sensing provides a tool for real-time estimation of cover crop biomass production and nutrient uptake on working farms throughout the landscape. This three-year study combined cost-share program enrollment data with satellite imagery and on-farm sampling to evaluate cover crop N uptake on fields within the Choptank River watershed on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Agronomic factors influencing cover crop performance included species (rye, barley, wheat) and varietal differences as well as planting date (September to November), planting method (drilled, broadcast, aerial), and previous crop (corn, soy). Climatic parameters such as cumulative growing degrees following planting and rainfall patterns also significantly affected cover crop performance. This report analyzes three years of data collected from over 1200 fields enrolled in Maryland cover crop programs. Combining remote sensing with farm program data can provide important information to scientists and regulators working to improve conservation programs. Results can be used to more effectively utilize scarce conservation resources and increase water quality protection.