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Research Project: GxExM Systems Approach to Crop Disease Management

Location: Soil Dynamics Research

Title: Single species and mixtures for corn production in Alabama

item Balkcom, Kipling
item GAMBLE, AUDREY - Auburn University

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/12/2020
Publication Date: 12/15/2020
Citation: Balkcom, K.S., Gamble, A.V. 2020. Single species and mixtures for corn production in Alabama [abstract]. ASA-CSSA-SSSA International Meeting.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Benefits associated with conservation tillage and single species cover crops have been documented across the Southeast, but there is tremendous interest in how cover crop mixtures compare with single species. We examined how two cover crop mixtures of rye (Secale cereale L.) and crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.) (Mix 1 - 34 kg/ha rye and 11 kg/ha clover; Mix 2 - 34 kg/ha rye and 22 kg/ha clover) affected early season corn (Zea mays L.) growth and yield compared to fallow and single species cover crops of rye (101 kg/ha) fertilized with 34 kg N/ha or crimson clover (22 kg/ha). The five main plot cover crop treatments were arranged in a randomized complete block design with four blocks with a split-plot treatment restriction that consisted of four sidedress nitrogen rates (0, 168, 224, and 280 kg/ha) across six site-years in Alabama. Average biomass production was 2300 kg/ha across all cover crops, but biomass variability was observed across site-years. Clover was among the lowest biomass producers four out of six site-years, while Mix 2 produced the greatest biomass across half the site-years. Clover and both mixtures produced greater N uptake values across three out of five responsive site-years that averaged 84 kg N/ha. Average corn yields were not responsive to cover crops (Pr > F = 0.3434), but N rates produced equivalent corn yields within a site-year and were 160% greater than the no fertilizer control. Corn yields across all site-years were maximized at 168 kg N/ha. These results indicate single species or mixtures did not produce dramatic effects on growth and yield of corn; however, corn following cover crops did exceed corn following fallow, depending on the site-year.