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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Kill Date of Vetch, Rye, and a Vetch-Rye Mixture: II. Soil Moisture and Corn Yield


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 89 No. 3, p. 434-441
    Received: May 18, 1995

    * Corresponding author(s): aclark@nal.usda.gov
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  1. Andrew J. Clark ,
  2. Alvin M. Decker,
  3. John J. Meisinger and
  4. Marla S. McIntosh
  1. S ustainable Agric. Network, USDA-ARS, Natl. Agric. Library, Beltsville, MD 20705-2351
    D ep. of Agronomy, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
    U SDA-ARS, Environmental Chemistry Lab, Beltsville, MD 20705.



Spring cover crop kill date effects on N and water availability to subsequent no-till corn (Zea mays L.) have not been studied. This 2-yr study was conducted in 1990 and 1991 at Coastal Plain and Piedmont locations in Maryland to evaluate soil moisture and corn responses to three cover crop kill dates, three corn planting dates, and four fertilizer N (FN) rates following cover crops of hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth), cereal rye (Secale cereale L.), and vetch-rye mixture. No-cover checks were included for each corn planting date. Corn yield ranged from 0.8 to 13.3 Mg ha−1 in 1990, and from 3.9 to 12.6 Mg ha−1 in 1991. Corn grain yield without FN was greatest following vetch or vetch-rye mixture. Late April or early May kill dates consistently resulted in greater corn yield than earlier kill dates, probably due to differences in N availability and moisture conservation. Cover crops killed late did not deplete surface soil moisture. The economic FN rate reflected N contributions and moisture conservation by each cover crop. At the Coastal Plain location, economic FN rates were 30 to 76 kg ha−1 for corn following vetch, 65 to 193 kg ha−1 following vetch-rye mixture, 161 to 247 kg ha−1 following rye, and 201 kg ha−1 following no cover crop. Similar rankings were observed for the Piedmont location, but maximum yield was lower following rye, and lower FN rates were required to attain that yield. Summer soil water conservation by cover crop residues was more important than spring moisture depletion by growing cover crops in determining final corn yield.

Contribution no. 9069 and Scientific Article no. A7748 of the Maryland Agric. Exp. Stn.

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