Cover crop potential of winter oilseed crops in the Northern U.S. Corn Belt

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Winter camelina [WC, Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz] and field pennycress (FP, Thlaspi arvense L.) are emerging oilseed crops in corn–soybean rotations, but little is known about their cover crop potential. A 2-year study was conducted in Minnesota, USA to evaluate the effect of winter oilseed crops on nitrogen (N) use, growth and yield of corn and soybean. Treatments included WC, FP, winter rye (WR, Secale cereale L.), and a no cover crop (NC) control. Oilseed crops produced 40–50% less spring biomass and accumulated less N compared to WR. The tissue-N of WC and FP was 39.0% and 6.6% higher than WR, respectively. The C:N ratio of cover crops was lower than 20:1, suggesting rapid decomposition. Compared with NC, cover crops lowered soil nitrate before major crops planting, but the post-harvest N profile following corn and soybean was not affected. Compared with NC, cover crops significantly decreased corn yield, with 8.7%, 9.5% and 9.8% reduction following WC, FP and WR, respectively. Cover crops did not affect growth, yield and N uptake of soybean. Oilseed crops showed potential to improve N cycling in the rotation, but more research of their impact on major crops is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1845-1859
Number of pages15
JournalArchives of Agronomy and Soil Science
Issue number13
StatePublished - Nov 10 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Minnesota Research & Promotion Council.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Winter camelina
  • corn–soybean rotation
  • field pennycress
  • nitrogen
  • winter rye


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