Corn Response to Rye Cover Crop Management and Spring Tillage Systems
- B. A. Raimbault,
- T. J. Vyn and
- M. Tollenaar
The use of a winter rye (Secale cereale L.) corn (Zea mays L.) doable cropping sequence in combination with appropriate tillage practices could increase biomass production and reduce soil erosion potential in southern Ontario. A 3-yr study (1982–1984) was conducted at two locations to determine the potential of this sequence for double cropping, and to evaluate spring tillage systems and management of the rye residue on subsequent productivity of corn. Winter rye was planted in early October after corn silage harvest, and either chemically killed or harvested as silage in the spring before corn planting. Rye treatments consisted of no rye, rye harvested in the spring and rye residue left on the plots. Spring cultivation treatments were no-till, tandem discing, and mold board plowing followed by secondary tillage. The use of a winter rye cover crop delayed corn development and reduced corn biomass yield by 11% at the Elora location and by 17% at the Woodstock location. The adverse effect of the rye crop was more pronounced under no-till than where the soil was tilled. Removal or retention of the rye residue had no consistent effect on the subsequent corn crop. An allelopathic effect resulting from the rye crop may be one plausible explanation for the reduction in corn yield. Total biomass yield (rye + corn) was increased relative to corn alone, if the soil was cultivated. Therefore, a winter rye-corn sequence may still be of interest, despite a reduction in corn yield, especially if advantages such as total biomass production and the potential for decreased soil erosion during fall and winter are considered.
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