Surface runoff and nutrient dynamics in cover crop–soybean systems in the Upper Midwest

Sharon L. Weyers, Russ W. Gesch, Frank Forcella, Carrie A. Eberle, Matthew D. Thom, Heather L. Matthees, Matthew Ott, Gary W. Feyereisen, Jeffrey S. Strock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Relay-cropping of the novel oilseeds winter camelina (Camelina sativa L.) and pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.) with short-season crops such as soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] can provide economic and environmental incentives for adopting winter cover crop practices in the U.S. Upper Midwest. However, their ability to reduce nutrient loss in surface runoff is unknown. Accordingly, surface runoff and quality were evaluated during three seasonal phases (cover, intercrop, and soybean) over 2 yr in four cover crop–soybean treatments (pennycress, winter camelina, forage radish [Raphanus sativus L.], and winter rye [Secale cereale L.]) compared with no-till and chisel-till fallow treatments. Runoff was collected with Gerlach troughs and assessed for concentrations and loads of NO3–N, total mineral N, soluble reactive P (SRP), and total suspended solids (TSS). Cumulative runoff and nutrient loads were greater during the winter cover phase because of increased snow melt and freeze–thaw released nutrients from living vegetation. In contrast, cumulative TSS was greater during intercrop and soybean phases due to high-intensity rainfall events with an open soybean canopy. Average TSS loads during the intercrop phase were reduced by 75% in pennycress compared with fallow and radish treatments. During the soybean phase, average TSS, total mineral N, and SRP loads were generally elevated in cover crop treatments compared with no-till. Overwintering cover crops may contribute to mobility of nutrients solubilized from living or decomposing vegetation; however, this was balanced by their potential to reduce runoff and TSS during high-intensity spring rains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-171
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Volume50
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 20 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank J. Eklund, D. Peterson, C. Hennen, S. Larson, J. Hanson, and several undergraduates for their technical assistance in plot maintenance and sample collection, processing, and analysis and G. Amundson for constructing runoff troughs. This work was supported, in part, by grant 00042968 from the Water Quality Program of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the USDA. The USDA is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

Funding Information:
We thank J. Eklund, D. Peterson, C. Hennen, S. Larson, J. Hanson, and several undergraduates for their technical assistance in plot maintenance and sample collection, processing, and analysis and G. Amundson for constructing runoff troughs. This work was supported, in part, by grant 00042968 from the Water Quality Program of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the USDA. The USDA is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Environmental Quality © 2020 American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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