Three-year project at:
University of Minnesota’s Research and Outreach Centers in Lamberton and Waseca
Experimental Design: Split-plot design with six replications. Main plot treatments will include establishment technologies, while sub-plot treatments will be cover crop species/mixture. The experimental check 'corn without cover crops ' will be incorporated into the treatment structure.
Cover crop establishment techniques:
Direct Broadcast + light incorporation
Cover crop species to be evaluated:
Often used in Minnesota, a non-winter hardy mixture will be compared to the no cover crop (control) to check for durability and water quality impacts.
Data will also be collected to quantify cover crop success, corn performance and water quality impacts.
Soil samples will be collected to a depth of four feet (one-foot increments) immediately after corn harvest in the fall and also in the spring prior to cover crop termination. These samples will be analyzed for soil nitrate-nitrogen concentration.
Soil water content will be measured in increments of 0-to 8-inch depth starting at the establishment of cover crops and continue bi-weekly (FieldScout TDR 300 Soil Moisture Meter). Residual soil nitrate-nitrogen content and soil water content will provide needed information to calibrate the Nitrogen Loss and Environmental Assessment Package (NLEAP) model (NLEAP-GIS 4 .2); and to use this model to assess N pools and pathways for N losses (USDA-ARS , 2010).
Soil water data loggers (WatchDog Waterscout, Spectrum Technologies) will be installed at a 24-inch depth to monitor soil water status on four-hour intervals at both locations. Soil loss reduction will be estimated through the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE2).
Necessary parameters to estimate Soil Loss Ratio (SLR) are: canopy coverage, ground cover, soil roughness, ridge height, soil biomass, soil consolidation, and antecedent soil moisture. Measurements will be collected at the V8 com stage, in late fall, and in the spring before termination of cover crops and planting of corn.
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