Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/2/2006
Publication Date: 10/24/2006
Citation: Balkcom, K.S., Arriaga, F.J., Raper, R.L., Bergtold, J.S. 2006. Nitrogen Fertilizer Requirements to Maximize Rye Cover Crop Biomass Production [Abstract]. AU Symposium "Energy Solutions for Alabama Natural Resources",October 23-24, 2007, Auburn, Alabama.
Technical Abstract: Winter cover crops are an integral part of conservation systems and have traditionally been utilized in the Southeast to protect soils by controlling erosion, improving infiltration, and increasing organic C inputs. Rye (Secale cereale L.) is a popular cover crop due to its wide adaptability to soil fertility levels, climate zones, and biomass production. Growers are encouraged to maximize biomass production, but are reluctant to apply high rates of N fertilizer to cover crops not harvested for grain, although potential benefits are enhanced. Utilizing a winter rye cover crop as an alternative energy source could justify higher N rates. Economics of a cover crop as an alternative energy source may prohibit the cost of commercial N fertilizer at higher rates, but an organic N source, such as poultry litter, could be more sustainable. An experiment was implemented at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center in Headland, AL to compare N fertilizer sources, rates, and time of application for a rye cover crop to optimize biomass production. First year results indicate that fall applied N fertilizer, regardless of source, and rates of 60 lb N ac-1 for commercial fertilizer and 2 tons poultry litter ac-1 are required to maximize biomass production.