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  • Author or Editor: Kate A. Ivancic x
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Spring-planted green manure cover crops may provide a nitrogen (N) benefit to a subsequent sweet corn (Zea mays L.) crop, but spring growth and lack of consistent benefits documented in previous studies provide limitations to adoption. Berseem clover (BC; Trifolium alexandrinum) and chickling vetch (CV; Lathyrus sativus L.) are two legumes that could be beneficial when spring-seeded, but they have not been well studied in this context. The objectives of this study were to measure spring-seeded cover crop biomass and N yield, and the subsequent effects on sweet corn yield and response to N fertilizer. The study was conducted in 2014 and 2015, and the experimental design was a randomized complete block split-plot design with cover crop as whole-plot treatments [CV, BC, berseem clover and oat (Avena sativa) mixture (BC + O), oats, and no cover crop] and N rate as split-plot treatments. Cover crop growth and effects on sweet corn production varied greatly between years, with both cover crop and sweet corn biomass greater in 2015, although BC produced very little biomass (<0.7 Mg·ha–1) and thus is not recommended for spring seeding. In 2014, CV resulted in the lowest agronomically optimum N rates (AONRs) compared with no cover crop, suggesting a potential N credit when only having an N yield of 11.6 kg·ha–1, but this effect was not seen in 2015. There was also no evidence that oat would supply N to the subsequent crop. Overall, evidence is lacking that any spring-seeded cover crop will provide a consistent N benefit on sandy soil, and limitations to spring growth may preclude widespread adoption.

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