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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Urbana, Illinois » Global Change and Photosynthesis Research » Research » Research Project #436543

Research Project: Research for a Decision Support Tool for Adaptive Management of Cereal Rye

Location: Global Change and Photosynthesis Research

Project Number: 5012-12220-010-008-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2019
End Date: Sep 30, 2022

Collect on-farm data from IDEA Farm Network and the Midwest and Northeast Cover Crop Councils to further improve the cereal rye phenology and biomass prediction model of Mirsky et al. (2009).

In fall of Year 1, participants [including farmer advisory board (8) and farmer participants (30) distributed across IL, IN, OH and WI] will each receive a 0.25 m x 0.5 m pvc quadrat, wire flags and an Onset pendant temperature logger. We will use the improved rye phenology prediction model within the R statistical computing environment, to take inputs on grower location and 10 years of weather history for that site from the PRISM database (, to provide each participant with a cereal rye phenology prediction. The predictions will contain information about the likelihood of cereal rye achieving successive maturity stages (using the Zadoks scale up through termination at anthesis at various points in the spring, in relation to different fall planting dates of cereal rye. Participants will plant a rye cultivar of their choice, making note of the planting date, seeding rate and cultivar. They will then use the PVC quadrat to flag out 6 quadrats in their rye planting, for rye staging and biomass sampling in the spring. An activated temperature logger will be held in place on the soil surface by a wire marking flag in the quadrat designated for final biomass harvest just prior to rye termination. Prior to the initiation of the project, in fall of Year 1, we will send a 1 page protocol to the farmer advisory board and farmer participant group, followed by a short teleconference on its use and their feedback for any changes to the protocol. Project team members will meet with farmer participants in their area at the start of sampling to make sure the sampling process is standardized. As soon as the rye cover crop becomes active in the following spring at a particular location, the participant will watch for it to achieve different Zadoks stages (Z26: tillering; Z32: mid jointing, Z45: boot, Z50: heading, Z60: early anthesis, Z67: late anthesis). At each growth stage (or a nearby stage) rye biomass within a single quadrat will be photographed, clipped to the soil surface and air dried in a paper bag labeled with the Zadoks stage, date and participant’s name. After the final biomass sample is dry, all paper bags will be placed within a cardboard box and shipped to the project coordinator for weighing and data entry. This process will be repeated in fall of Year 2 and Year 3.