U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Document Type


Date of this Version



2018 by the American Society of Agronomy


Agronomy Journal Volume 110 Issue 6


Residue management with cover crops (CC) can conserve soil moisture and thus has a potential to increase crop yield, but its effectiveness varies significantly by region and cropping system management. A study was conducted at Brookings, SD, on finesilty, mixed, superactive, frigid, Calcic/Pachic Hapludolls soils to understand the impact of CC and crop residue on soil properties and soil-water dynamics for soybean (Glycine max L.) crop grown after corn (Zea mays L.). The site had two crop residue treatments (residue returned [RR] and residue not returned [RNR]) under a no-till corn–soybean rotation. Each residue returned treatment was later subdivided to include CC and no CC (NCC) treatments. Results from this 3 yr (2014, 2015, and 2016) study showed that RR (1.30 Mg m–3) had 7% lower bulk density (BD) compared to the RNR (1.40 Mg m–3). Soil organic carbon (SOC) was 22% higher under RR (26.2 g kg–1) compared to RNR (21.5 g kg–1). Soil water infiltration was 66% higher under RR (108 mm h–1) compared to RNR (64.8 mm h–1). Similarly, soil water infiltration in CC treatment (111 mm h–1) was 80% higher compared to NCC (61.7 mm h–1). The RR with CC treatment increased soil volumetric water content and soil water storage. Overall, the CC increased soybean yield by 14% compared to NCC. Data from this study suggest that the use of CC with RR are beneficial for improving soil properties, conserving soil moisture and enhancing crop yield.