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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Soil Dynamics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #358234

Research Project: Sustainable Production, Profit, and Environmental Stewardship through Conservation Systems

Location: Soil Dynamics Research

Title: Single and multi-species cover crop performance

item Balkcom, Kipling
item DELANEY, DENNIS - Auburn University
item VAN SANTEN, EDZARD - University Of Florida
item GAMBLE, AUDREY - Auburn University

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/1/2018
Publication Date: 11/4/2018
Citation: Balkcom, K.S., Delaney, D.P., Van Santen, E., Gamble, A.V. 2018. Single and multi-species cover crop performance [abstract]. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts. CDROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Single species cover crops that produce large biomass levels are beneficial for degraded southeastern soils, but interest in cover crop mixtures have prompted questions about cover crop mixture performance compared to single species cover crops. An on-going experiment, located at Auburn University’s Field Crop’s Unit in Shorter, AL on a Compass loamy sand (coarse-loamy, siliceous, subactive, thermic Plinthic Paleudults), was designed to compare cover crop biomass performance among single species, two species, and three species cover crops with various seeding combinations (12 treatments per block) during the 2016 to 2018 growing seasons. A smaller companion study was also conducted adjacent to the larger study with identical treatments to partition biomass levels out among each species in 2017 and 2018. Species included cereal rye (Secale cereale L.), crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.), and radish (Raphanus sativus L.). Seeding rate percentages of mixtures varied from 60-85% for rye, 17-71% for clover, and 7-44% for radish. Although a significant year x cover crop interaction was observed for biomass production (P = 0.0350), comparisons between single species and individual mixture combinations were averaged over all three growing seasons. Rye, grown as a single species, produced equivalent biomass levels compared to all six rye mixtures. Two of six clover mixtures produced biomass up to 55% greater compared to crimson clover grown as a single species. One of six radish mixtures produced 49% greater biomass compared to radish grown as a single species. Cover crop partitioning of mixtures indicated rye produced less biomass relative to seeding rate percentages in 2017 and more biomass relative to seeding rate percentages in 2018. The inverse was observed for crimson clover, while radish was consistent in 2017. Radish biomass exceeded the highest seeding rate percentage (44%) for mixtures with crimson clover in 2018. Preliminary results indicate single species biomass performance varies compared to mixtures.