Garrett Williams

M.S. Level Student
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Advised by Dr. Amir Sadeghpour

Economic and Agronomic Considerations for Intensified Double-Cropping & Cover Cropping Systems in Illinois

Maximizing productivity on decreasing levels of arable land to meet world demands for food, feed, and fiber while reducing environmental footprints are crucial to the overall sustainability and success of the American agriculture industry. Corn (Zea mays L.) and soybean (Glycine max L.) dominate cash crop production in Illinois and growers rotate the two crops in two growing seasons. Integrating cover crops to improve environmental benefits or wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) for increasing growers’ income are two strategies for intensifying corn-soybean rotations in Illinois. Current cover cropping strategies include planting on seven-and-a-half inch rows (19 cm) across a consistent gradient. This results in planting difficulties due to cover crop-cash crop root interference, as well as disparities in stand establishment, threating yield potential. A practical and novel approach to minimize such issues is precision planting or “Skip Row Cover Cropping” (SRCC). Precision planting (SRCC) involves planting of winter cereal rye (Secale cereale L.) and crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.) in sections of three, seven-and-a-half inch rows, then skipping the cash crop row. Our objective was to evaluate soybean performance following SRCC vs. double cropping and evaluate farm profitability. Treatments included (1) a no-cover crop control; (2 & 3) normal planted cover crops with early termination (2) and late termination (3); (4 & 5) precision planted cover crops (SRCC) with early termination (4) and late termination (5); (6 & 10) interseeded cover crops with early termination; (7 & 11) interseeded cover crops with late termination; (8) wheat-soybean double-crop; and (9) barley-soybean double-crop.