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


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Hendrickson JR, Liebig MA, Archer DW, Schmer MR, Nichols KA, Tanaka DL (2021). Late-seeded cover crops in a semiarid environment: overyielding, dominance and subsequent crop yield. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 36, 587–598. https://doi.org/ 10.1017/S174217052100020X


Interest in cover crops is increasing but information is limited on integrating them into crop rotations especially in the relatively short growing season on the northern Great Plains. A 3-yr research project, initiated in 2009 near Mandan, North Dakota, USA, evaluated (1) what impact cover crops may have on subsequent cash crops yields and (2) whether cover crop mixtures are more productive and provide additional benefits compared to cover crop monocultures. The study evaluated 18 different cover crop monocultures and mixtures that were seeded in August following dry pea (Pisum sativum L.). The following year, spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), corn (Zea mays L.), soybean (Glycine max L.) and field pea were seeded into the different cover crop treatments and a non-treated control. A lack of timely precipitation in 2009 resulted in a low cover crop yield of 17 g m2 compared to 100 and 77 g m2 in 2008 and 2010, respectively. Subsequent cash crop yield was not affected by late-seeded cover crops. Cool-season cover crop monocultures were more productive than warm-season mono-cultures and some mixtures in 2008 and 2010. Relative yield total did not differ from one in any cover crop mixture suggesting that overyielding did not occur. Species selection rather than species diversity was the most important contributor to cover crop yield. Cover crops can be grown following short-season cash crops in the northern Great Plains, but precipitation timing and species selection are critical.

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