Cover Cropping and Residue Management for Weed Suppression, Soil Fertility and Organic Crop Production

Project Overview

LS02-132
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2002: $99,117.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Keith Baldwin
NC A&T State University

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Agronomic: general grain crops

Practices

  • Crop Production: cover crops
  • Pest Management: weed ecology
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health

    Abstract:

    The goal of this project was to investigate the growth of cover crops and manage residues to manage weed pressure in organic farming systems and supply nutrients for subsequent cash crops. Cash crops in the first, second, and third years were edamame soybean, corn, and corn, respectively. Although weed competition in the cover crop was minimal, in all crop years cover crop residues failed to control weeds in the cash crops. No meaningful yield was achieved in any crop year. None of the cover cropping and residue management strategies was successful enough to demonstrate in outreach activities.

    Project objectives:

    The focus of this proposal is the design of organic farming systems that integrate essential aspects of crop management in order to increase the crop’s competitiveness with weeds, build soil fertility, and produce high-value organic crops. These integrated systems are also expected to benefit conventional growers who see them as more sustainable alternatives to traditional rotations. Moreover, with current USDA guidelines strongly encouraging surface residue on highly erodible soils, development of mulch systems for use with mechanical weed management can simultaneously improve weed control and soil conservation in organic and other low herbicide cropping systems.
    Objectives
    1. Investigate the weed suppression of crimson clover, rye, and crimson clover/rye biculture cover crops prior to the establishment of principal crops and in the subsequent vegetable soybean and corn crops.
    2. Evaluate techniques for mechanically killing cover crops as alternatives to use of herbicides.
    3. Investigate the reseeding capacity of crimson clover left to mature in a strip crop tillage system.
    4. Investigate the N contribution of a cover crop biculture (crimson clover/rye) in a cereal rye-edamame-crimson clover/rye biculture-corn rotation.
    5. Characterize N cycling in a cereal rye-vegetable soybean-crimson clover/rye biculture-corn rotation.
    6. Publish results, demonstrate successful production practices to growers, produce written production guidelines, and discuss results at professional and county meetings, conferences, and field days.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.