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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Soil Dynamics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #392172

Research Project: Conservation Systems to Improve Production Efficiency, Reduce Risk, and Promote Sustainability

Location: Soil Dynamics Research

Title: Evaluation of cover crop monocultures and mixtures for soil health

item JOHNSON, ANNA - Auburn University
item DECKER, HANNAH - Auburn University
item Balkcom, Kipling
item GAMBLE, AUDREY - Auburn University

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/11/2022
Publication Date: 2/14/2022
Citation: Johnson, A., Decker, H., Balkcom, K., and Gamble A.V. 2022. Evaluation of cover crop monocultures and mixtures for soil health. Southern Branch American Society of Agronomy Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, Feb. 12-14, 2022.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The restoration of soil health is a crucial step to maximize productivity in historically eroded soils of the southeastern United States. Cover crops have been known to improve soil health over time; therefore, studies were conducted from 2017 to 2021 in the Tennessee Valley (TVREC) and Wiregrass (WREC) Research and Extension Center regions of Alabama to examine the impact of cover crops on dynamic soil health indicators. Treatments including fallow, along with monocultures and combinations of cereal rye (Secale cereale L.), crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.), and Daikon radish (Raphanus sativus L.) were arranged in a randomized complete block design. Cash crops followed a cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.)–soybean (Glycine max L.) rotation at TVREC and a cotton-peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) rotation at WREC. Soil health indicators included permanganate oxidizable C (POXC), soil organic carbon (SOC), water stable aggregates (WSA), and soil strength (area under the curve for cone index [AUCCI]). Radish biomass was often lower than rye-containing treatments at both TVREC and WREC. Cover crop mixtures did not develop higher biomass or SOC than rye and clover monocultures at most site-years. Soil health indictors did not present consistent differences between treatments within the same site-year, and indicators differed with climate and soil type. Cover crop treatment did not consistently affect cotton lint and soybean yields while clover-containing treatments negatively affected peanut yield at WREC in 2019.