Corn silage Production with Kura Clover Living Mulch and Winter Rye Cover Crop; Soil Erosion, Nutrient Runoff, and Soil Physical Properties
During the 2010 season we performed 40 simulated storm events on our plots at the University of Wisconsin’s Lancaster Agricultural Research Station. We measured the amount of surface water flow off of the plots and collected samples for laboratory analyses, including soil erosion and phosphorus and nitrogen losses.
After the fall corn silage harvest, winter rye cover crop was planted in half of each of the existing no-till corn and living mulch plots.
Although I have not completed my statistical analysis of the 2010 data, and additional simulations will be performed in the spring of 2011, there appears to be markedly lower runoff and erosion from plots with kura clover living mulch than in conventional no-till corn. The exact degree of this difference has not yet been calculated and could also change based on the results of simulations in 2011.
That said, preliminary statistics show a very significant reduction in water runoff, erosion, and phosphorus runoff between living mulch plots and the conventional no-till. Less clear so far is whether there are significant differences between kura clover living mulch and winter rye cover crop in terms of runoff and erosion prevention. In simulations performed with all four treatments (during early November) winter rye treatments, both with and without kura clover, yielded the smallest amounts of runoff while no-till corn produced the most and kura clover living mulch was intermediate. Whether these differences will be consistent with 2011 simulations remains to be seen.
During the 2010 season, we were able to complete a large number of rainfall simulations which provides us with a substantial amount of data in order to quantify the environmental impacts of kura clover living mulch compared with standard no-till corn production and winter rye cover cropping.
We also measured the corn yields in both living mulch and no-till corn plots and have completed several lab procedures to assess the corn silage forage quality.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
I have begun work on an extension brochure, journal article, and poster presentation which will help to publicize the results of this study and related work with kura clover at the University of Wisconsin. The publications will reach extension agents and other researchers initially and also be available as a resource for farmers interested in implementing kura clover living mulch systems on their farms.
I have uploaded the draft version of the extension brochure as part of this 2010 project report.
Univ of WI – Dept of Agronomy
1575 Linden Dr.
Madison, WI 53703
Office Phone: 6082622314