Evaluating common and novel forage cover crops planted before corn (Zea mays L.).
This two-year study aimed to investigate novel cover crops, and management strategies such as forage harvesting or altering planting style before corn (Zea mays L.) to increase cover crop performance, and farmer uptake. In this study, I assessed single species stands, species mixtures, forage removal, forage quality and impact of cover crops on fertilizer nitrogen replacement value (FNRV) to corn. While no cover crops yielded exceptionally well due to dry conditions, oats (Avena sativa L.), peas (Pisum sativum subsp. arvense) and oat-pea-radish (Raphanus sativus L.) were the most consistent, averaging 1.41, 0.72 and 1.24 Mg DM ha-1 aboveground biomass, respectively. Novel legume cover crops produced excellent forage quality, with crude protein averaging 144 g kg-1. Harvesting cover crops reduced FNRV to subsequent corn crops by 12.77 kg N ha-1 not altering agronomic management to corn. Although novel cover crops failed to establish, the success of harvesting cover crops remains promising.