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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Hairy Vetch Kill Date Effects on Soil Water and Corn Production


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 87 No. 3, p. 579-585
    Received: Mar 21, 1994

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. Andrew J. Clark ,
  2. A. Morris Decker,
  3. John J. Meisinger,
  4. F. Ronald Mulford and
  5. Marla S. McIntosh
  1. U SDA-ARS Environmental Chemistry Lab, Bldg. 007, Rm. 211, BARC-West, Beltsville, MD 20705
    D ep. of Agronomy, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
    L ower Eastern Shore Res. & Educ. Ctr., Univ. of Maryland



Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth) can fix N2 for subsequent release to a corn (Zea mays L.) crop, but kill date effects on vetch N accumulation, soil water, and subsequent corn production have not been studied. A hairy vetch cover crop can deplete soil water through transpiration, but cover crop mulches can conserve soil water for no-till corn. In order to determine optimum spring kill date and corn fertilizer N (FN) rates, hairy vetch was killed early April, late April, or mid-May, followed by three corn planting dates and four FN rates (0, 45, 135, and 202 kg N ha−1). From early April to mid-May, hairy vetch aerial phytomass and N content increased significantly, from 2800 to 4630 and 96 to 149 kg ha−1, respectively. Corn grain yields ranged from 5.2 to 10.1 Mg ha−1 and were significantly greater following mid or late kill, compared with early kill of vetch, regardless of corn planting date or FN rate. Gravimetric soil water under mid- or late-kill vetch was often significantly greater than after early-kill vetch. We conclude that soil water conservation by late-killed vetch mulches had a greater influence on corn production than vetch spring water use. Optimum N production and water conservation occurred when vetch was killed the last week of April. Earlykill vetch sacrificed N production and minimized soil water conservation, resulting in reduced corn grain yield. Late kill did not add significant N benefits, but could deplete soil water or interfere with timely corn planting.

Contribution no. 8777. Scientific Article no. A6565. Maryland Agric. Exp. Stn.

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