Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cover crops reduce erosion, runoff

Date:
May 18, 2010
Source:
American Society of Agronomy
Summary:
Research finds that cover crops planted after harvesting instead of rough tillage reduce soil erosion and runoff during the winter and the next season.

Cover crops may be more effective at reducing soil erosion and runoff after maize harvest than rough tillage, according to scientists from the Universitι Catholique de Louvain, in collaboration with the Independent Center for the Promotion of Forage (CIPF).

The three-year study, supervised by Charles Bielders and conducted by Eric Laloy, measured erosion and runoff losses from silt loam and sandy loam soils in continuous silage maize cropping. The research revealed that cover crops reduced erosion by more than 94% compared to bare soil during the intercropping period. Cover crops and reduced tillage appeared equally effective in reducing runoff and soil loss between cropping cycles, despite the fact that the cover crop development was very poor.

The results were reported in the May/June 2010 edition of the Journal of Environmental Quality, a publication of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America.

Since planting a cover crop is often more expensive than rough tillage, the preferred practice would seem to be rough tillage. However, burying sufficient cover crop biomass into the soil in the previous year reduced erosion rates 40 to 90% lower in the next year than maize grown on plots left bare during winter. This residual effect gives cover crops an advantage in erosion and runoff control compared to rough tillage.

According to Bielders, "For the residual effect to be observed, we estimate that at least 1.5 t ha-1 of cover crop biomass must be buried into the soil." Smaller amounts of biomass were insufficient to demonstrate an effect. Two types of cover crop, rye and ryegrass, were studied, but there were no differences between the two.

"The more cover crop biomass is buried, the stronger the erosion reduction during the maize season," says Laloy. "However, farmers should be cautious not to bury too much biomass as this has a negative impact on maize yields."

Soil erosion on loess soils has long been recognized as a major environmental issue, because it affects long term agricultural productivity and may show strong off-site impacts. Sowing winter cover crops is frequently advocated as a means to reduce erosion during the intercropping period in between two main crops. In principle, cover crops can also help reduce erosion during the main crop by improving the soil's physical quality.

This study demonstrated the importance of the residual effect of cover crops in continuous maize cropping systems. Maize that is harvested late and cover crops sown in autumn may suffer from poor development as a result of cold weather, yet they can still provide benefits to soil quality in the next year.

Further research will be needed to clarify the exact conditions of occurrence of this residual cover effect and the mechanisms involved. This study was funded by the Walloon Region of Belgium.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society of Agronomy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. E. Laloy, C. L. Bielders. Effect of Intercropping Period Management on Runoff and Erosion in a Maize Cropping System. Journal of Environmental Quality, 2010; 39 (3): 1001 DOI: 10.2134/jeq2009.0239

Cite This Page:

American Society of Agronomy. "Cover crops reduce erosion, runoff." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100518113230.htm>.
American Society of Agronomy. (2010, May 18). Cover crops reduce erosion, runoff. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100518113230.htm
American Society of Agronomy. "Cover crops reduce erosion, runoff." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100518113230.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) — Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins