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ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #277967

Title: Response of corn to organic matter quantity and distribution in soil

item Franzluebbers, Alan
item STUEDEMANN, JOHN - Former ARS Employee

Submitted to: USDA-ARS Research Notes
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/10/2006
Publication Date: 4/10/2006
Citation: Franzluebbers, A.J., Stuedemann, J. 2006. Response of corn to organic matter quantity and distribution in soil. JPC Research Note 11. 2006.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The objectives of this experiment were to: 1. Quantify the agronomic response of corn to tillage and cover crop management, 2. Determine soil quality changes following cropping of previous land in pasture, and 3. Estimate economics of corn production in response to tillage and cover crop management. Data collected during the first year of corn in this experiment suggest that corn can be effectively grown with no tillage and integrated with cattle grazing. Agronomically, corn performed better without cattle grazing, although the negative response of cattle on corn production was minor, and dependent upon tillage system. No tillage was superior to disk tillage with regards to corn, as well as cover crop production, and subsequent cattle gain when grazing the cover crop. Environmentally, grazing caused some deterioration of soil properties, but not to a level that greatly affected crop production. No-tillage crop production was able to preserve the high level of surface soil organic matter that is necessary to control erosion and improve nutrient cycling. Economically, cattle grazing rye cover and corn stover added significant value ($90-130/acre) to the farming system without harming crop production. No tillage was able to add $40-60/acre to net return. These initially positive results will require another year or two of data to be able to make firm conclusions about how corn can be managed with alternatives to increase agronomic performance, preserve environmental quality, and improve farm profitability. This project complements other sustainable agriculture research being conducted at the Watkinsville ARS laboratory.