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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Agroecosystems Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #410252

Research Project: Sustainable Intensification in Agricultural Watersheds through Optimized Management and Technology

Location: Agroecosystems Management Research

Title: Harvesting and digesting winter rye cover crop double-cropped with soybean

item Malone, Robert - Rob
item HERBSTRITT, STEPHANIE - Clean Air Task Force (CATF)
item RICHARD, TOM - Pennsylvania State University

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/2/2023
Publication Date: 11/6/2023
Citation: Malone, R.W., Herbstritt, S., Richard, T. 2023. Harvesting and digesting winter rye cover crop double-cropped with soybean [abstract]. Anaerobic Digestion on the Farm Conference.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Simultaneous goals to increase crop production, increase cellulosic bioenergy production, and reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture without reducing producer profits puts multiple pressures on growers and conservation programs. Double-cropping winter rye cover crops with soybean in the North Central US could help with the global effort to sustainably intensify agriculture and increase cellulosic energy production. However, studies addressing the management of this system and quantifying the large-scale impacts are limited to non-existent. We completed a field and modeling study that suggested harvesting fertilized rye cover crop biomass before planting soybean is a promising practice for the North Central US to cost effectively maximize total crop production and net energy production while reducing N loss to drainage. For example, harvesting fertilized rye before soybean planting in five North Central US states can reduce N loads to the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico by nearly 30% relative to no rye and through anaerobic digestion provide more than 3 times the 2022 US cellulosic biofuel production without reducing primary crop production. This research will help in the efforts to design and implement effective management systems to reduce N loads to the Mississippi River Basin and Gulf of Mexico while increasing cellulosic bioenergy production.