Nitrogen cycling by grass-brassica mixtures in the Mid-Atlantic
Gaimaro, Joshua Ruben
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Mixtures of cover crop species may be more effective than monocultures at internal nutrient cycling due to their ability to occupy different niches. Our study investigates nitrogen (N) cycling of radish (Raphanus sativus L.) and rye (Secale cereal L.) in monocultures and mixtures compared to a no cover crop control. The study was established on fine-textured soils near Laurel, MD where we estimated N leaching losses, quantified mineral soil N (to 60 cm), and cover crop biomass N for two years. Forage radish suppressed estimated N leaching in the fall, while cereal rye suppressed estimated N leaching in the spring. In this study, growing radish in a mixture with rye decreased the risk of N leaching losses and enhanced N cycling due to the difference in timing of N uptake and release. Our research indicates that grass-brassica mixtures are a flexible management tool for mitigating N leaching in the Mid-Atlantic.