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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Research Project #424640

Research Project: Permanent Living Mulches for Farmable Buffer Strips and Vegetative Waterways

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Project Number: 5062-12130-006-06-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Apr 1, 2013
End Date: Jan 31, 2017

Test the hypothesis that perennial living mulches can be established in sensitive locations within cropped fields, and managed so that they can support continued row crop production while conferring environmental benefits.

Research plots will be established on a sloping cropped field at the University of Minnesota’s Waseca ROC. Buffer strips at the base of the slope will include 4 treatments: kura clover and Kentucky bluegrass living mulches, a conventional unfarmed vegetative buffer, and a control (no buffer). Runoff will be monitored from all plots and analyzed for sediment, nitrate, and phosphorus. The living mulches, the control plots and the upper portion of the entire field will be farmed in a corn-corn-soybean rotation with zone tillage. Glyphosate-tolerant corn and soybean varieties will be used, and glyphosate will be used both for weed control and for suppression of the kura clover living mulch. Yields will be measured in all treatments, and both plant and soil samples will be taken regularly to monitor nutrient status. Soil moisture and temperature will also be monitored in one replicate of each treatment.