Economic and environmental impact of dual-use cover crop species in Tennessee no-till soybean/corn rotations
Sustainable Production
DiseaseField management Pest
Lead Principal Investigator:
Virginia Sykes, University of Tennessee-Institute of Agriculture
Co-Principal Investigators:
Avat Shekoofa, University of Tennessee-Institute of Agriculture
Larry Steckel, University of Tennessee-Institute of Agriculture
Scott D Stewart, University of Tennessee-Institute of Agriculture
+2 More
Project Code:
Contributing Organization (Checkoff):
Brief Project Summary:

Cover crops provide many ecological benefits including reduced soil erosion, reduced nutrient leaching, and enhanced water holding capacity. Another potential benefit is the use of these cover crops as a forage for livestock production. Limited information is available comparing cover crop species and variety adaptation and ecological impacts in either conventional or dual-use (cover crop/forage) cover crops in Mid-South soybean systems. The objectives of this study are to assess impacts of conventional and dual-use cover crop systems on weeds, slugs/insects, and diseases and assess within-species variation and identify regionally adapted cover crop varieties.

Key Benefactors:
farmers, agronomists, extension agents, livestock producers

Information And Results
Final Project Results

Updated December 31, 2020:

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Overall, results from this trial illustrate the variation both among and within cover crop species as well as highlight top-performing varieties for East, Middle, and West Tennessee. Top-performers from the 63 cover crop varieties evaluated can be found at https://search.utcrops.com/cover-crops. In general, cereal rye, winter pea, and hairy vetch varieties offered the greatest benefits to Tennessee production systems, but significant variation was observed among varieties within these species. These results reiterate the importance of selecting varieties that are best adapted to specific regions and productions systems in order to maximize cover cropping benefits. In vitro and greenhouse studies of allelopathic impacts from cover crops on both weed and crop germination and early growth were present but differed by species and location and require further research under field conditions. Dual-use cover crops, harvested as both a forage and used as a winter cover, did not demonstrate a negative impact on insect or slug populations. These results, in combination with earlier results showing high forage yields and nutritive values, suggest this practice may be a viable option to further add economic value to cover crop systems.

The United Soybean Research Retention policy will display final reports with the project once completed but working files will be purged after three years. And financial information after seven years. All pertinent information is in the final report or if you want more information, please contact the project lead at your state soybean organization or principal investigator listed on the project.