Measuring Benefits of Hairy Vetch Cover Crop for Corn Production and Evaluating a Portable Soil Nitrate Test Kit
Soil nitrate tests are quite valuable in creating an awareness of the benefits of cover crops.
Objectives: 1) To demonstrate whether hairy vetch can economically provide nitrogen for corn production in northwest Ohio and 2) to evaluate a portable soil test kit for measuring pre-sidedress soil nitrate levels.
Results: In six 30-feet wide randomized strips, hairy vetch was seeded in wheat stubble in August 1996 with a control strip between each hairy vetch strip. All strips were tested for soil nitrate to compare portable soil nitrate tester and soil samples sent to an analytical laboratory. The results revealed no signifiant difference between the two methods. Based on soil nitrate tests, the hairy vetch strips planted to corn required 90 pounds per acre less sidedress nitrogen than the control strips. There was no significant yield difference and a savings of $2.60 per acre in favor of hairy vetch, with no consideration given to the benefits of reduced soil erosion or the increase in organic matter.