The potential benefits of adding cover crops to corn and soybean cropping systems have become more widely recognized in recent years. DuPont Pioneer Agronomy Research Manager Andy Heggenstaller says cover crops offer opportunities for improving soil quality and crop production efficiency – but can also add new management challenges and risks. He says cover crops are best viewed as a long-term investment in soil productivity – adding that the specific benefits will depend on the species and growing environment.
To select the right cover crop for an individual farming operation – the grower needs to identify the specific functions they want the cover crop to provide. The primary benefits of cover crops in corn and soybean cropping systems include reduced soil compaction, soil nutrient retention and prevention of soil erosion.
The impact of cover crops on crop yields have varied in research studies – depending on the environment, cover crop species and management. Legume cover crops and grass-legume mixtures have generally been more likely to have a positive effect on corn yield than grasses alone. DuPont Pioneer notes regional differences in corn yield response to cover crops highlight the importance of soil and climatic factors. Cover crops are more likely to have a positive effect on corn yield in southern and eastern locations than in northern locations.
For more information – go online to www dot pioneer dot com (www.pioneer.com) and click on the Seasonal Insights Timely Tips under the Agronomy heading. Then look for Managing Winter Cover Crops.