First-of-kind study suggests cover crop mixtures increase Agroecosystem services
Planting a multi-species mixture of cover crops -- rather than a cover crop monoculture -- between cash crops, provides increased agroecosystem services, or multifunctionality, according to researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
That was the conclusion drawn from a two-year study of 18 cover-crop treatments, ranging in diversity from one to eight plant species. Cover crops were grown at the Penn State Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center preceding a corn crop. The researchers measured five benefits provided by cover crops - ecosystem services -- in each cover crop system to assess the relationship between species.
Those services included weed suppression and nitrogen retention during the cover-crop season, cover-crop aboveground biomass, inorganic nitrogen supply during the subsequent cash-crop season and subsequent corn yield.
The study was the first field-based test of the relationship between cover-crop species and multifunctionality -- the quality of cover crops to simultaneously provide multiple benefits -- noted research team member Jason Kaye, professor of soil biogeochemistry. Never before had this relationship been examined and analyzed in a crop rotation.
Photo: This is a research site in November 2011, approximately 3 months after cover crop planting. (Credit: Penn State Agriculture) https://adalidda.net/posts/u9kofqN3SBrRKvmjj/first-of-kind-study-suggests-cover-crop-mixtures-increase