Cover Crop Effect on Nematode Activity in the Soil

Project Overview

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2018: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/14/2021
Grant Recipient: University of Arkansas
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
Principal Investigator:
Matthew Davis
University of Arkansas Jackson County Extension Service


  • Agronomic: corn, soybeans


  • Crop Production: cover crops, crop improvement and selection, varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: cooperatives, feasibility study
  • Pest Management: biofumigation, biological control
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Nematodes are a growing issue in agriculture. Nematodes can cause major damage in several crops. Soybeans are one of the hardest hit crops with nematode pressure. Side effects of nematode in soybeans can result in yield reduction up to 50 percent and total plant loss depending on soil type. Without proper training and guidance, farmers can lose the ability to farm land that is hard hit by nematode. Most non-host crops such as peanuts or sorghum are not profitable for farmers in this area or equipment/transportation may be limited. We need sustainable practices such as cover crop rotation to help minimize the impact of nematode on our cash crops.

    We are looking to cover crop rotation to help reduce the nematode number in the soil. Cover crops are a great use to maintain soil health, reduce erosion, and help with water infiltration. We are looking to use mustard greens as a cover crop that can be mowed down and tilled into the soil. Research that other universities have done have shown that mustard greens that are chopped and tilled create a natural nematode fumigant. To keep soybean production sustainable in a nematode infested field we will hopefully achieve better control with cover crop rotation that will allow the soybean to reach maturity. Once we have a better understanding of the data for cover crop options we hope to add more cover crop varieties into the mix offering farmers a variety of solutions across different land types. We believe that in order for a farmer to be prepared he must have all options at his disposal and have the research there to support those options. This research will be a critical tool to help farmers combat the growing concern that is the nematode pest in the South.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    We will use replicated trials: fallow-susceptible soybean variety; mustard green-susceptible soybean variety; fallow-resistant soybean variety; mustard green-resistant soybean variety.

    We will have 3 replications for a total of 12 data points.

    Once we get to harvest, we will be able to see if variety selection plus the introduction of mustard cover crop reduced nematode concentration and stress on the plant.

    We will also sample nematode prior to planting (baseline) and throughout the growing season to map the concentration across each plot.

    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.