Incorporating Cereal Rye Into a No-Till Corn/Soybean Rotation For Erosion Reduction and Possible Grazing Use
The 2015 growing season was challenging for Missouri farmers. These challenges included delayed crop planting and hay harvest, yield loss from nitrogen loss and dry fall followed by extreme rain events in November and December. The fall of 2015 allowed for the establishment of four sites of cereal rye. Three of these sites are corn stalks going to soybeans in 2016 and one site in soybean stubble going to corn in 2016.
Evaluate cereal rye for forage quality
Measure crop yield with and without the cereal rye cover crop.
Share results with producers and agency personnel.
Due to cooperator collaboration Extension staff were able to collect an additional year of cereal rye and corn yield data. Two fields following soybeans were established in cereal rye the fall of 2014, field 1 by interseeding the first week of September and field 2 by broadcast seeding the last week of October. The following is the forage analysis of the two fields the middle of April with field 1 having about one ton (16 in. ht.) of dry matter and field 2 about ½ ton (8 in. ht.).
As with other cool season grasses, the cereal rye forage value decreased with increased dry matter production.
Both fields were planted April 17 and experienced extreme rainfall events with field 1 experiencing more stress from excessive moisture due to its level topography, while field tow with a 3-4% slope provided surface water drainage, with less stress to the corn crop. Both fields experienced the same nitrogen management. Holland Scientific sensor data collection was conducted on field 1 June 29, one month after sidedress to measure possible nitrogen stress caused by cereal rye and high rain fall amounts. Due to weather and staff available only field 1 was measured, but field 1 did show significant nitrogen loss/needs between the treatments. One month after sidedress application the plots with no cereal rye cover crop were showing a need for an additional 71 lbs. of nitrogen with the cereal rye plots needing an additional 172 lbs. this additional application amounts was not made in order to see if these readings translated to a yield difference between treatments. Corn yield of the two sites was similar to many parts of Missouri with fields having good surface drainage (field 2) outyielding level fields (field 1) significantly. Field 2 yield was 183 bu.ac. with no cereal rye and 179 bu.ac. with cereal rye. Additionally field 1 cereal rye dry matter was approximately two times that of field 2. Yield results show significant yield loss in the cereal rye plots of field 1 with the no cereal rye plots yielding 113. bu./ac. and the cereal rye plots yielding 82 bu./ac/, with no significant difference between treatments of field 2.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Education and outreach activities focused primarily on three events. A collaborative field day with the Lincoln County SWCD and Elsberry Plant Materials Center attracted 78 attendees. People attending were from an 18 county Missouri area in addition to Illinois and Iowa. Topics covered at the field day included:
• Corn after cereal rye cover crop yield results.
• Grazing of cover crops.
• Inter seeding cover crops using a Hagie.
• Seeding date and its effect on cover crop growth.
• Varietal differences of cover crops.
• Determining cover crop economic benefits.
Evaluations from the field day show:
• 100% have corn and soybeans in their rotations.
• Producers will travel considerable distance to attend.
• Producers are still using cover crops on experimental small acreages.
• Interest is increasing in grazing cover crops.
• Producers like the use of seeing demonstrations and large field use.
University of Missouri Extension field staff and state specialists provided a professional opportunity for staff and other interested agency personnel to see new research and results from incorporating cover crops into crop rotations. This in service was attended by 32 Extension, agency and private industry people. Topics discussed included grain yield response, cover crops as a wee suppressant, using cover crops to reduce soil erosion, termination of cover crops and using cover crops to benefit wildlife. Discussion among researchers, agency and service provider employees was useful for potential future research needs.
The first year results were also presented at the annual meeting of the Midwest Cover Crop Council meeting in Madison WI. This meeting was attended by over 100 people from the North Central States and Ontario, with discussion and thoughts on the meaning of the first year’s results and management strategies for 2016.
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