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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Soil, Water & Air Resources Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #410075

Research Project: Optimizing Carbon Management for Enhancing Soil and Crop Performances

Location: Soil, Water & Air Resources Research

Title: Interseeded cover crops did not cause corn yield loss in eastern North Dakota

item FRANZEN, DAVID - North Dakota State University
item WICK, ABBEY - Syngenta
item BU, HONGGANG - North Dakota State University
item RITCHISON, DARYL - North Dakota State University
item MULLINS, BARB - North Dakota State University
item Chatterjee, Amitava

Submitted to: Agrosystems, Geosciences & Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/10/2023
Publication Date: 10/25/2023
Citation: Franzen, D., Wick, A., Bu, H., Ritchison, D., Mullins, B., Chatterjee, A. 2023. Interseeded cover crops did not cause corn yield loss in eastern North Dakota. Agrosystems, Geosciences & Environment. 6(4). Article 20441.

Interpretive Summary: Cover crops are planted late in the growing season to protect the soil from erosion and take up surplus of soil nutrients remaining after harvest of the main crop, reducing environmental pollution. These benefits can increase if the cover crop is planted before harvest of the main crop and grows for a longer time before winter, compared to the normal planting time after main crop harvest. But farmers in eastern North Dakota fear this early planting will cause a loss in grain yield of the main crop. Through field experiments, we found that planting the cover crop before main crop harvest did not cause a grain yield loss compared to cover crop planting after harvest. These results were not consistently affected by the amount of nitrogen fertilizer added. Our results will encourage early planting of cover crops in eastern North Dakota at recommended rates of nitrogen fertilizer, increasing cover crop benefits to the environment. These results are useful to farmers and researchers of cover crops and soil nutrients.

Technical Abstract: North Dakota is a transitional semiarid region with annual rainfall in the eastern part of the state about 50-55 cm precipitation, mostly from rainfall. The moisture demand from interseeding cover crops into standing corn early in the season has been a concern and is a likely reason why most corn growers do not interseed cover crops. Corn grain yield was studied in response to interseeding of rye or oat, radish and camelina and incremental fertilizer nitrogen (N) application rate for five site-years in the eastern North Dakota, USA. Interseeding and its interactions with fertilizer-N rate did not influence the grain yield. However, rye produced most biomass, but the amount varied with site and growing season conditions. Late October, rye biomass produced were 98.8, 352 and 70.3 kg/ha during 2018-2020 respectively at the Gardner site. Interseeding did not reduce yield highly likely due to lack of cover crop biomass produced.