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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ECOLOGICALLY-BASED SOIL AND CROP MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE Title: Improving soybean performance in the Northern Great Plains through the use of cover crops

Authors
item Dagel, Kurt
item Osborne, Shannon
item Schumacher, Tom -

Submitted to: Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 24, 2014
Publication Date: May 27, 2014
Citation: Dagel, K.J., Osborne, S.L., Schumacher, T.E. 2014. Improving soybean performance in the Northern Great Plains through the use of cover crops. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis. 45(10):1369-1384. DOI:10.1080/00103624.2014.884108.

Interpretive Summary: Cover crops can provide multiple services for improving soil quality and enhancing annual crop growth. Maintaining continuous plant cover on agricultural fields with cover crop is of great interest to improve crop nutrient cycling, prevent soil degradation, and promote further adoption of no-till farming systems. A field study was conducted in eastern South Dakota in 2007, 2008 and 2009 to evaluate four cover crop combinations compared to a no cover crop treatment sown after oat on soybean performance. The impact of soil tillage practices no-tillage and conventional tillage were evaluated at two different planting populations. Soybean plant biomass, seed harvest index, yield, total nitrogen, oil concentration, and test weight were measured. Cover crops preceding soybean did not negatively impact most measured plant parameters. Seed yield was increased by the radish and slender wheatgrass and turnips and slender wheatgrass combinations in 2008 while in 2007 and 2009 no yield increase or slight yield decrease was shown by the cover crops. Soil tillage practice and planting population had a strong influence on seed yield and seed quality in all three study years.

Technical Abstract: Cover crops are capable of providing “multiple services” for improving soil quality and enhancing annual crop growth. Maintaining continuous plant cover on agricultural fields with cover crop is of great interest to improve nutrient cycling, prevent soil degradation, and promote further adoption of no-till farming systems. A field study was conducted in eastern South Dakota in 2007, 2008 and 2009 to evaluate four cover crop combinations (no cover, buckwheat (BUCK) (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench) + slender wheatgrass (Agropyron caninum L.) (SLD WHT), oilseed radish (Raphanus sativus L.) (RAD) + SLD WHT, purple top turnips (Brassica rapa L.) (TURN + SLD WHT) sown after oat (Avena sativa L.) on soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] performance. The impact of soil tillage practices no-tillage (NT) and conventional tillage (CT) were evaluated at two different planting populations. Soybean plant biomass, seed harvest index, yield, total nitrogen (N), oil concentration, and test weight were measured. Cover crops preceding soybean did not negatively impact most measured plant parameters. Seed yield was increased by the RAD + SLD WHT and TURN + SLD WHT in 2008 while in 2007 and 2009 no yield increase or slight yield decrease was shown by the cover crops. Soil tillage practice and planting population had a strong influence on seed yield and seed quality in all three study years.

Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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