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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Rye Cover Crops in a Corn Silage-Soybean Rotation

item Kaspar, Thomas - Tom
item Singer, Jeremy

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/8/2007
Publication Date: 11/8/2007
Citation: Kaspar, T.C., Singer, J.W. 2007. Rye Cover Crops in a Corn Silage-Soybean Rotation [CD-ROM]. In: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts, Nov. 4-8, 2007, New Orleans, LA.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Corn silage is often grown in the Upper Midwest to provide feed for cattle. Silage harvest, however, does not leave enough crop residue to adequately protect the soil from erosion and can reduce soil organic matter. Winter cover crops planted after silage harvest and after other crops in the cropping system can provide erosion protection and help to maintain soil organic matter. A five-year experiment was conducted in central Iowa to determine the amount of shoot biomass that is produced by a rye winter cover crop planted after corn silage harvest and the effect of a rye winter cover crop on soybean and corn silage yield. Averaged over five years, a rye winter cover crop produced 2.94 Mg ha-1 of shoot biomass following corn silage compared with 1.28 Mg ha-1 following soybean. Undoubtedly, the earlier planting date of the rye cover crop following corn silage contributed to the difference in biomass. Previous studies had shown a grain yield decrease when corn followed a rye winter cover crop. Similarly, in this study, corn grain yield was 0.3 Mg ha-1 less following a rye cover crop (12.1 Mg ha-1 vs.12.4 Mg ha-1). Corn silage biomass and soybean grain yield, however, were not reduced in this study. Corn silage biomass averaged over four years was 16.9 Mg ha-1 either with or without a cover crop. Soybean grain yield averaged over four years following a rye cover crop was 3.6 Mg ha-1 compared with 3.7 Mg ha-1 without a cover crop. This study indicates that a rye winter cover crop can produce substantial shoot biomass following corn silage harvest and that corn silage and soybean yields following a rye winter cover crop are not reduced.

Last Modified: 10/16/2017
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