Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Soil Dynamics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #284182

Title: Soil carbon accumulation after short-term use of rye as a winter cover crop

item Arriaga, Francisco
item DUCAMP, FERNANDO - Auburn University
item Balkcom, Kipling

Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/11/2012
Publication Date: 7/19/2012
Citation: Arriaga, F.J., Ducamp, F., Balkcom, K.S. 2012. Soil carbon accumulation after short-term use of rye as a winter cover crop [abstract]. 67th Soil and Water Conservation Society International Conference. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The use of winter cover crops has been proposed to protect and enhance soil resources. Cereal rye (Secale cereale L.) can be an effective cover crop since it can produce large amounts of biomass in certain climates. However, short-term benefits of cover crop use on soil carbon accumulation are not well known. A study was established to investigate the short-term impact of a rye winter cover crop on soil carbon accumulation. Different soil carbon fractions were compared between three cover crop treatments (no cover, residue retained and residue removed). These three cover treatments were selected to help distinguish carbon contributions to the soil from above- and below-ground cover crop biomass. After two years of establishment, organic carbon and particulate organic matter concentrations were significantly greater with the use of a cover. The above-ground biomass portion of the cover crop contributed significant amounts of carbon to the soil when compared to the below-ground portion (residue removed) and no cover. Soil carbon stratification ratios indicate that both above- and below-ground portions of the cover crop have a positive impact on soil quality when compared to no cover crop use. Short-term use of high-residue winter cover crops can improve soil carbon sequestration and overall soil quality, but long-term use is still recognized as being more beneficial.