M.S. Level Student
Illinois State University
Advised by Dr. Nicholas Heller
Impact of Pennycress in Different Illinois Crop Rotation Systems on Soybean Yield
Soybean (Glycine max) is a major cash crop in Illinois with a short growing season. More than six months of the year can offer opportunities for cover crops that can contribute to improving soil health. This research explores the potential benefits of integrating pennycress as a winter oilseed cover crop during the non-soybean growing season. Pennycress can offer ecosystem services such as reducing nutrient runoff and economic benefits. Despite the potential benefits, there are concerns that they may lead to a reduction in yield for the following summer cash crop. This experiment aimed to address those concerns. The study was conducted at the Illinois State University Research Farm in Lexington, IL, and used a randomized complete block experimental design to evaluate the agronomic production and economics of integrating the crop into four potential cropping cycles in Illinois. This study also aims to determine the yield performance of soybeans in different cropping systems. Pennycress was planted after harvesting four different treatment crops: cereal rye, silage corn, grain corn, and soybean. Soybean as a summer cash crop was planted in April in fallow plots and in early June after the pennycress harvest. The results showed soybean yield in the corn-fallow-soybean plots was the highest (88.6 bu/A) followed by the rotation corn-pennycress-soybean (87.1 bu/A). However, soybean yields decreased when planted in the winter fallow land after cereal rye treatment (73.2 bu/A). Various research is in progress to assess the effects of pennycress on soybean yield within a rotation of corn and soybean crops.