Incorporating Cereal Rye Into a No-Till Corn/Soybean Rotation For Erosion Reduction and Possible Grazing Use

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2015: $14,345.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Charles Ellis
University of Missouri Extension

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, rye, soybeans


  • Crop Production: no-till
  • Soil Management: soil analysis

    Proposal abstract:

    Recently agriculture has experienced unprecedented demand and high prices for grain crops resulting in record acreage for these crops. For Missouri this increase in crop acreage has come from erosion prone soils and pastures. The results of this is: increased soil erosion potential on these marginal soils with a reduction in forage acres at a time when cattle demand is increasing.
    Much of this ground is being managed in a no-till system, but is still experiencing 2.5-3 tons per acre per year of soil loss in addition to extensive rill erosion following soybeans in a corn/soybean rotation. These rills have forced producers to do tillage for field leveling. Alternatives to this management may be the incorporation of a cover crop into the rotation.
    Using the Nutrient Tracking Tool modeling program, the typical upland field in East Central Missouri will experience 2.6 tons of soil loss per year. By incorporating a cereal rye cover crop between the corn and soybeans erosion is reduced to 1.8 tons per acre and if a cover of cereal rye is incorporated after soybeans erosion is reduced to .8 tons per acre per year. Cereal rye may provide forage opportunities for cattle reducing pasture/hay needs.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    With Missouri’s diverse soils and combination farms of grain and cattle the objectives include:
    • Measure corn and soybean yield response to the incorporation of rye in the no-till rotation.
    • Evaluate cereal rye forage quality and quantity through sampling and use of ultrasonic sensor to measure biomass.
    • Measure for soil health changes at the conclusion of the study.
    • Measure corn’s nitrogen response following cereal rye using sensors such as a Greenseeker unit and/or UAV.
    • Measure economic impacts of incorporating cereal rye in the rotation from a crop yield change and forage value of the cereal rye.

    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.