2007 Annual Report for GNC05-055
Illinois bundleflower: a perennial multiple purpose third crop for Iowa
Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis), a perennial legume native to the US, has the potential to become a forage and grain crop and therefore diversify and make perennial cropping systems in the North Central US. In no-till demonstration plots monocultures of Illinois bundleflower produced 840 lb/ac of forage in bottom-land and 494 lb/ac of forage in hillside in 2007. Horseweed (Conyza canadensis) and other weeds were a major problem that limited Illinois bundleflower productivity.
The primary objective of this project is to assess the feasibility of growing Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis) as a third crop in Iowa. The project contributes to the long-term sustainability of the North Central US agriculture by combining research, education and extension activities towards the diversification and “perennialization” of local landscapes.
The target population includes Iowa farmers, students, and the broad scientific community.
The project has three short-term outcomes:
1) scientific evidence of the feasibility of introducing a native legume species into a diverse perennial cropping system in Iowa;
2) specific information on the management of Illinois bundleflower as forage and/or grain crop in monoculture and in mixtures with cool and warm season grasses; and
3) increased awareness from local farmers of benefits of perennial third crops.
Results will lead to the intermediate-term outcomes of increasing the number of Iowa farmers diversifying their system with perennial third crops and increased scientific research on diverse perennial cropping systems in the North Central US. This project integrates research and extension to local farmers, which assures that the producer community will evaluate results; farmers’ feedback will be incorporated for future directions.
Outcome 1 accomplishments (scientific evidence of the feasibility of growing Illinois bundleflower in Iowa):
Demonstration plots (McCoy Farm, Polk Co, IA). In fall 2005 (October/November) gliphosate was applied on Brome pasture unmowed. In spring 2006 (May) gliphosate was applied and later seeds were no till drilled at a rate of 10 lb Illinois bundleflower seed/ac (May 18 2006). Mixture plots were sown with Switchgrass (4 lb/ac) or Intermediate wheatgrass (4 lb/ac). During summer 2006 all plots were mowed twice and grazed with goats. In 2007 no mowing, fertilizers, or herbicides were applied. Forage biomass was hand harvested on Aug 29 2007.
Table 1. Horseweed (HW), other weeds (OW), and Illinois bundleflower (IBF) biomass (lb/ac) in on-farm demonstration plots in 2007 for monoculture plots in two landscape locations.
Location HW OW IBF
Bottom-land 3,927 481 840
Hillside 2,249 663 494
Forage biomass of Illinois bundleflower was low, and limited by weed invasion, primarily Horseweed, a common weed in no-till systems.
Outcome 2 accomplishments (management of Illinois bundleflower as forage and/or grain crop in monoculture and in mixtures with cool and warm season grasses):
Mixtures of Illinois bundleflower with switchgrass or intermediate wheatgrass were not able to suppress weeds significantly during this first year. Establishment of the grasses was low at this point in time.
Outcome 3 accomplishments (awareness from local farmers of benefits of perennial third crops):
A Practical Farmers of Iowa Field day was held on Norman Mc Coy Farm on September 9th 2007, with attendance of about 30 people. The importance of perennials and diversification of farming systems was discussed, as well as the first year results of the Illinois bundleflower project. Participants showed high interest in perennial alternative crops.
Also results were communicated in a poster presentation at the Iowa Prairie Conference 2007, in Sioux City, IA. Finally, for the academic audience, a paper in Crop Science was published (Crop Science 48:331-342).
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
This research provided basic information about the feasibility of growing Illinois bundleflower in Iowa, as well as information on management practices and compatibility with grasses. Future research is needed in order for this species to be adopted in farmers systems yet. Weed management in Illinois bundleflower should be a central focus of future research efforts.
Practical Farmers of Iowa
11395 N E Hubbell Ave
Maxwell, IA 50161
PhD student in Sustainable Agriculture
Iowa State University
1301 Agronomy Hall
Ames, IA 50011
Office Phone: 5152946795
University of Georgia
111 Riverbend Rd.
Athens, GA 30602
Office Phone: 7065428847