Winter annual rye cover crops in no-till grain crop rotations: impacts on soil physical properties and organic matter
Coale, Frank J
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Winter annual cover cropping (WCC) is a common management practice subsidized by Maryland to protect water and soil quality. The affect of long-term incorporation of WCC on soil physical properties (SPP) is not well established. We hypothesized by increasing organic inputs WCC would improve SPP. To evaluate the effect of WCC and wheel traffic (WT) on SPP, we studied two long term rotations (corn/rye and corn/fallow) at two locations on the Coastal Plain (CP) and one on the Piedmont. WCC improved SPP, but only during the winter at the CP. High levels of WT compacted soil in both rotations. WCC and wheel traffic had no effect on SPP or organic matter at the Piedmont. We conclude, only during the winter did WCC improve SPP; however, due to the drastic annual changes, we hypothesize this improvement is due to soil disturbance caused by the grain drill planting the rye.