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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Tifton, Georgia » Southeast Watershed Research » Research » Research Project #433049

Research Project: Lupin, Cereal Rye, and Carinanat Winter Cover Crops for Biomass in the Southern Coastal Plain

Location: Southeast Watershed Research

Project Number: 6048-13000-027-47-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: May 1, 2017
End Date: Apr 30, 2021

Objective:
1. Determine the yield potential and extrapolate the biofuel potential of cover crops used in two production systems 1) normal row crop rotation for Southeast U.S. - cotton/peanut and 2 - pine production. 2) Determine the effects of these covers on yield of summer rotation crops or pine. 3) Determine effects of covers on soil carbon (C), Nitrogen (N).

Approach:
A) Methods: Rotation crops: Year 1: Pull core soil samples for background carbon (C), Nitrogen (N) and texture analysis (48 plots for each location doing test). The test will be duplicated at three locations: Randomized complete block design (RCBD) split-split design (4 replications). The whole plots will be either cotton or peanut. The first split will be the cover crop treatments, and the second split will be harvest vs. rolled cover crop. The harvest vs. rolled will address objectives 2 and 3. Depending on timing of grant award; either establish winter covers plant summer row crops. Year 1 (Spring): If summer row crops are first, prepare land (strip till), plant and maintain summer row crops as to normal procedures. These main crops will be planted maintained and harvested as to current production practices. This will give us base line data for these plots. We also will need to be cognizant of length of growing season. I advocate planting cultivars that have minimal maturity time but productive enough to be released as cultivars. Year 1 (Fall): Plant and maintain as to prescribed methods. Harvest covers in spring in time to plant summer crops. Harvest by Carter harvester – take plot yields, samples for dry matter and analysis. Year 2: Follow previous year procedures but rotate crops within whole plots. Energy conversion analysis of cover crop material. Year 3 and 4: Try to finish another complete cycle on rotation. Year 4: Pull core soil samples for C, N analysis (96 for each split-split plot location). B) Pine cover crop: Year 1 (fall): Core soil samples for base C, N etc (24 plots per location). Establish pine (any preference – longleaf?) in plots. Establish at normal spacing. Plots will consist of two rows of pines with space between to allow planting, maintenance and harvest of cover crops (3 m). Following pine planting, cover crops will be planted in 4 rep RCBD. Years 2-4: Harvest covers at full growth in spring. Pine trees will be monitored for growth (plant height, truck circumference etc. each fall prior to replanting of covers. Cover crop material will be analyzed for energy conversion. Year 4: Pull core soil samples for C, N analysis.