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Impact of Legume Cover Crops on Nitrogen Dynamics and Yield in Commercial Corn Systems in Southern Ontario

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Title: Impact of Legume Cover Crops on Nitrogen Dynamics and Yield in Commercial Corn Systems in Southern Ontario
Author: Coombs, Claire
Department: School of Environmental Sciences
Program: Environmental Sciences
Advisor: Van Eerd, Laura
Abstract: Nitrogen contribution of a legume cover crop (cc) to subsequent field corn (Zea mays L.) may reduce nitrogen (N) inputs. Since best management options are largely unknown, a study was conducted in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 to assess N dynamics and yield in cc-corn rotations, under different management regimes, compared to no-cc plots. In October soil mineral N (SMN) was 10 kg N ha-1 lower for the cc treatments compared to no-cc. In May, in spring-terminated plots, plant available N (PAN) was 20 kg N ha-1 lower in no-cc compared to alfalfa and red clover plots. At corn harvest, PAN and yield were significantly higher in the 13.5 kg ha-1 cc seeded plots compared to the 3.4 kg ha-1 seeded plots. Planting of red clover or alfalfa at a 6.7 kg ha-1 seeding rate, combined with spring termination is recommended to maximize N availability in corn cropping systems.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/9080
Date: 2015-08
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