Impact of Cover Crop Strategies on Productivity of Corn

University of Minnesota/Axel Garcia Y Garcia

The dominant crops in Minnesota are corn and soybeans; together, they are responsible for more than 80% of the $9.25 billion value of the state’s field and miscellaneous crops in 2014 (USDANASS, 2015). As part of the Midwest, the state is within one of the most intense agricultural areas in the world. Corn and soybeans, the main crops, are typically grown in rotation using conventional cropping practices, including high external inputs. The practice is under scrutiny due to issues with soil erosion and nutrient losses, such as nitrogen in the form of nitrate (NO 3) polluting water resources. Cover crops integrated into current cropping practices have been promoted as an affordable and environmentally friendly option for crop production. Intuitively, cover crops will use water and nutrients and may influence weed, insect and pathogen populations, but the strategy is expected to result in a more efficient use of resources while maintaining or improving productivity and enhancing the quality of the environment. The goal of this proposal is to assess the impact of cover crop strategies on the productivity of corn grown under different environments and production practices.