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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: WATER QUALITY IMPROVEMENT FROM MANAGEMENT PRACTICES IN AGRICULTURAL WATERSHEDS Title: Cover Crops

Author
item Kaspar, Thomas

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: December 24, 2009
Publication Date: December 24, 2009
Citation: Kaspar, T.C. 2009. Cover Crops. In: Indiana Certified Crop Advisor Conference, December 15-16, 2009, Indianapolis, IN. 2009 CD-ROM.

Interpretive Summary: Cover crops have many potential benefits for both soil and water quality in annual grain cropping systems, like the corn-soybean rotation. Cover crops provide these benefits by growing during the fallow periods between harvest and planting of main crops. Studies in Iowa have shown that rye and oat winter cover crops can reduce erosion and nitrate leaching in corn-soybean rotations, which improves both water and soil quality. This research will benefit scientists, soil conservationists, crop consultants, and farmers because it shows that cover crops can be used to protect the soil and reduce nitrate leaching in corn and soybean rotations.

Technical Abstract: Cover crops have many potential benefits for both soil and water quality in annual grain cropping systems, like the corn-soybean rotation. Studies in Iowa have shown that rye and oat winter cover crops can reduce erosion and nitrate leaching in corn-soybean rotations, which improves both water and soil quality. Cereal winter rye and oat cover crops reduced interrill erosion by over 33% and rill erosion by over 53%. Similarly, rye and oat cover reduced nitrate leaching in a tile drained field by over 50% and 40%, respectively. These studies on nitrate leaching and soil erosion demonstrate that winter cover crops can have substantial effects on both soil and water quality by keeping plants growing in corn and soybean fields during the normally fallow months between harvest and planting.

Last Modified: 9/21/2014
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