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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Oxford, Mississippi » National Sedimentation Laboratory » Water Quality and Ecology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #376506

Research Project: Strategic Investigations to Improve Water Quality and Ecosystem Sustainability in Agricultural Landscapes

Location: Water Quality and Ecology Research

Title: Conservation Soybean Production Systems in the Mid-Southern USA: II. Replacing Subsoiling with Cover Crops

Author
item BRYANT, COREY - University Of Georgia
item KRUTZ, LARRY - Mississippi State University
item REYNOLDS, DANIEL - Mississippi State University
item Locke, Martin
item GOLDEN, BOBBY - Mississippi State University
item IRBYTRENT - Mississippi State University
item Steinriede, Robert - Wade
item SPENCER, G - Mississippi State University
item MILLS, B - Mississippi State University
item WOOD, C - Growers Holdings, Inc

Submitted to: Crop, Forage & Turfgrass Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/9/2020
Publication Date: 7/17/2020
Citation: Bryant, C., Krutz, L.J., Reynolds, D.B., Locke, M.A., Golden, B.R., Irbytrent, Steinriede Jr, R.W., Spencer, G.D., Mills, B.E., Wood, C.W. 2020. Conservation Soybean Production Systems in the Mid-Southern USA: II. Replacing Subsoiling with Cover Crops. Crop, Forage & Turfgrass Management. 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1002/cft2.20058.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/cft2.20058

Interpretive Summary: Adopting cover crop production systems is lagging in the mid-southern USA due to concerns over yield stability and on-farm profitability. Research was conducted to determine if the inclusion of a cover crop in conservation tillage systems improves yield, profitability, and water use efficiency. Relative to the conservation tillage system with subsoiling, replacement of subsoiling with tillage radish cover crop reduced soybean grain yield, net returns above specified costs, and water use efficiency by up to 41%, but a cereal rye cover crop had no effect on soybean grain yield or water use efficiency. Higher costs of rye cover crop reduced net returns above specified costs by 28%. In the mid-southern USA, a cereal rye cover crop can maintain soybean grain yield and water use efficiency relative to the regional standard, but reduced profitability associated with additional seed and planting costs may deter adoption.

Technical Abstract: The adoption of cover crop production systems is lagging in the mid-southern USA due to concerns over yield stability and on-farm profitability. This research was conducted to determine if the inclusion of a cover crop in conservation tillage systems improves yield, profitability, and water use efficiency. The effects of replacing subsoiling with a cereal rye (Secale cereale L.) or tillage radish (Raphanus sativus L. var. longipinnatus) cover crop on soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] grain yield, net returns above specified costs, and water use efficiency were evaluated in a conservation tillage system, i.e., surface residue = 30% at planting, on a Dubbs silt loam (Fine-silty, mixed, active, thermic Typic Hapludalfs) from 2016 to 2018 near Stoneville, MS. Relative to the conservation tillage system with subsoiling, the replacement of subsoiling with a tillage radish cover crop reduced soybean grain yield, net returns above specified costs, and water use efficiency by up to 41% (P = 0.0266). Conversely, the replacement of subsoiling with a cereal rye cover crop had no effect on soybean grain yield or water use efficiency but reduced net returns above specified costs by 28% (P = 0.0266). In the mid-southern USA, a cereal rye cover crop can maintain soybean grain yield and water use efficiency relative to the regional standard, but widespread adoption of this production system is unlikely due to reduced profitability associated with additional seed and planting costs.