Iowa Water Conference in Dubuque, Iowa, September 27-29 https://www.regcytes.extension.iastate.edu/iwc2022/
First year outcomes of field trials to evaluate N export from perennial groundcover corn systems Highly productive maize and soybean rotations are characteristic of the midwestern landscape. Traditionally, these crop rotations leave fields bare for extended periods. Because they lack living root systems, these bare fields are especially vulnerable to soil erosion and nutrient loss. Maize requires large nitrogen fertilizer inputs, with much of what is applied lost to groundwater, leading to far-reaching water quality consequences. Cover cropping systems have sought to alleviate these problems but have low adoption rates due to the timing of field activities and associated costs. The perennial groundcover (PGC) approach proposes the use of a continuous soil cover through perennial plant species growing in conjunction with the annual cash crop. This system may provide similar environmental benefits as traditional cover crops at a lower cost and with a reduced management burden. This study – which completed its first field season in the unusually dry summer of 2021 – aims to evaluate the PGC system’s effect on nitrogen export through field trials at the long-established water quality sites at the Northeast Research Facility in Nashua, IA. Kentucky bluegrass was established as a PGC in a continuous corn system. Data from year one of the study has been collected, and the results are presented in this poster.