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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ENHANCED MIDWESTERN CROPPING SYSTEMS FOR SUSTAINABILITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY Title: Minimizing interspecific competition in soybean by optimizing cover crop self-seeding

Authors
item Singer, Jeremy
item Kohler, Keith
item Meek, David

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 11, 2011
Publication Date: May 25, 2011
Citation: Singer, J.W., Kohler, K.A., Meek, D.W. 2011. Minimizing interspecific competition in soybean by optimizing cover crop self-seeding. Agronomy Journal. 103(4):1186-1191.

Interpretive Summary: Developing self-seeding cover crop systems that minimize competition with soybean are possible if cover crop growth is restricted to optimize cover crop seed production and dispersal. The objectives of this research were to quantify cover crop seed production, viability, and self-seeding when growing concurrently with soybean. Winter wheat, triticale, and rye were seeded at two rates in combination with three seed dispersal methods (natural seed rain, simulated combine, and mechanical preharvest). Wheat combined with mechanical seed dispersal preharvest exhibited the greatest consistency in self-seeding regardless of initial seeding rate and wheat averaged 51 and 32% green groundcover in the fall of 2007 and 2008. Wheat seed viability (> 82%) exceeded rye and triticale at soybean harvest, approximately 60 to 80 days after seed maturity. Cover crop species or seeding rate did not affect soybean seed yield either year. Averaged across seeding rate and seed dispersal treatments, wheat self-seeding systems exhibit the greatest potential for adoption, although soybean yield was lower in one of two years compared to a no cover crop control. Producers who want to adopt a self-seeding cover crop system should drill wheat between 400,000 and 800,000 seeds/acre after corn harvest in the fall and use some form of mechnical disturbance after wheat maturity the following summer to facilitate seed dispersal prior to soybean harvest.

Technical Abstract: Developing self-seeding cover crop systems that minimize interspecific competition with soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] are possible if cover crop growth is restricted to optimize cover crop seed production and dispersal. The objectives of this research were to quantify cover crop seed production, viability, and self-seeding when growing concurrently with soybean. Winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), triticale (x Triticosecale Wittmack), and rye (Secale cereale L.) were seeded at two target rates (99 and 198 seeds m-2). Three seed dispersal methods (natural seed rain, simulated combine, and mechanical preharvest) were also tested to disperse mature cover crop seed. Wheat combined with mechanical seed dispersal before soybean harvest exhibited the greatest consistency in self-seeding (171 and 123 plants m-2 in 2007 and 2008) regardless of establishment seeding rate. Additionally, wheat averaged 51 and 32% green groundcover in the fall of 2007 and 2008. Wheat seed viability (> 82%) exceeded rye and triticale at soybean harvest, approximately 60 to 80 d after seed maturity. Cover crop species or establishment seeding rate did not affect soybean seed yield either year. Averaged across seeding rate and seed dispersal treatments, wheat self-seeding systems exhibit the greatest potential for adoption, although soybean yield was lower in one of two years compared to a no cover crop control.

Last Modified: 10/20/2014
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