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Drill and broadcast establishment methods influence interseeded cover crop performance in organic corn

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 January 2020

John M. Wallace*
Affiliation:
Department of Plant Science, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
Sarah Isbell
Affiliation:
Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
Ron Hoover
Affiliation:
Department of Plant Science, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
Mary Barbercheck
Affiliation:
Department of Entomology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
Jason Kaye
Affiliation:
Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
William S. Curran
Affiliation:
Department of Plant Science, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
*
Author for correspondence: John M. Wallace, E-mail: jmw309@psu.edu

Abstract

Organic grain producers are interested in interseeding cover crops into corn (Zea mays L.) in regions that have a narrow growing season window for post-harvest establishment of cover crops. A field experiment was replicated across 2 years on three commercial organic farms in Pennsylvania to compare the effects of drill- and broadcast-interseeding to standard grower practices, which included post-harvest seeding cereal rye (Secale cereale L.) at the more southern location and winter fallow at the more northern locations. Drill- and broadcast-interseeding treatments occurred just after last cultivation and used a cover crop mixture of annual ryegrass [Lolium perenne L. ssp. multiflorum (Lam.) Husnot] + orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) + forage radish (Raphanus sativus L. ssp. longipinnatus). Higher mean fall cover crop biomass and forage radish abundance (% of total) was observed in drill-interseeding treatments compared with broadcast-interseeding. However, corn grain yield and weed suppression and N retention in late-fall and spring were similar among interseeding treatments, which suggests that broadcast-interseeding at last cultivation has the potential to produce similar production and conservation benefits at lower labor and equipment costs in organic systems. Post-harvest seeding cereal rye resulted in greater spring biomass production and N retention compared with interseeded cover crops at the southern location, whereas variable interseeding establishment success and dominance of winter-killed forage radish produced conditions that increased the likelihood of N loss at more northern locations. Additional research is needed to contrast conservation benefits and management tradeoffs between interseeding and post-harvest establishment methods.

Type
Research Paper
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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Drill and broadcast establishment methods influence interseeded cover crop performance in organic corn
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