Funded by the Illinois Soybean Association checkoff program.
M.S. Level Student
Illinois State University
Advised by Dr. Nicholas Heller
Short-Term Impact of Cover Crops on Soybean Yield
Winter cover crops may offer many ecosystem services, such a reducing nutrient runoff and sequestering carbon. Yet there are concerns that they may cause a yield drag on the subsequent summer cash crop. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of three winter cover crop treatment compared to a fallow control on the subsequent soybean crop’s yield. This study, conducted at the Illinois State University Research Farm in Lexington, Illinois, used a block experimental design to compare four treatments: 1. fallow control, 2. mix of peas, clover, radish, and oats, (PCRO) 3. pennycress, and 4. cereal rye. Soybean yield following pennycress (62.6 bu/A) was similar to the fallow control (62.6 bu/A). However, soybean yields decreased following PCRO (58.1 bu/A) and cereal rye (53.7 bu/A). Future efforts are currently underway to evaluate the long-term impact of winter cover crops on soybean yield in a soy-corn rotation and selected ecosystem services, including soil and soil pore N and P and carbon sequestration.