Kura clover living mulch reduces fertilizer N requirements and increases profitability of maize

Jonathan R. Alexander, John M. Baker, Rodney T. Venterea, Jeffrey A. Coulter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Kura clover living mulch (KCLM) systems have been previously investigated for their incorporation into upper Midwestern row crop rotations to provide ecosystem services through continuous living cover. Reductions in soil erosion and nitrate loss to surface and groundwater have been reported, but factors affecting agronomic performance and nutrient management are not well defined. To achieve realized environmental benefits, research must develop agronomic management techniques, determine economic opportunities, and provide management recommendations for row crop production in KCLM systems. Two experiments were conducted in 2017 and 2018 to determine the response to N fertilizer application for maize production in KCLM. The first-year maize experiment followed forage management, and the second-year maize experiment followed maize after forage management. Eight fertilizer N treatments ranging from 0–250 kg N ha−1 were applied to each experiment and grain and stover yields were compared to conventionally managed maize hybrid trials that were conducted nearby. First-year maize did not need fertilizer N to maximize yield and profitability in either growing season, and second-year maize required a fertilizer N rate near local University guidelines for maize following soybean. The net economic return from maize grain and stover in the KCLM averaged over first and second-year maize experiments and 2017 and 2018 growing seasons were $138 ha−1 greater than the conventional comparison.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number432
JournalAgronomy
Volume9
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 6 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council, Grant No. 4097-13SP.

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council, Grant No. 4097-13SP. The authors thank Michael Dolan, William Breiter, Cody Winker, Ryan Felton, and Seiya Wakahara for technical assistance with field sampling and laboratory analysis. The use of trade, firm, or corporation names in this publication is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the United States Department of Agriculture or the Agricultural Research Service of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors.

Keywords

  • Conservation
  • Cover crop
  • Economics
  • Forage
  • Kura clover
  • Living mulch
  • Nitrogen
  • Perennial

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