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Plant and Soil

, Volume 268, Issue 1, pp 209–219 | Cite as

Cropping system and nitrogen dynamics under a cereal winter cover crop preceding corn

  • S. M. Crandall
  • M. L. Ruffo
  • G. A. Bollero
Article

Abstract

Cereal rye (Secale cereale L.) has been identified as a potential nitrogen (N) management tool when used as a winter cover crop (WCC). However, N deficient corn (Zea mays L.) has often been observed when preceded by a cereal rye WCC, resulting in yield reductions and deterring the integration of WCC into cropping systems of the Corn Belt. The objectives of this study were to assess soil N availability and plant N status throughout the corn growing season under various combinations of cereal rye kill date and N-fertilizer strategy in Illinois. Cereal rye WCC was killed three (KT1), two (KT2), and one (KT3) weeks prior to optimal corn planting, and N-fertilizer strategies included combinations of N splits (early and late) and N strategies (at planting, divided between planting and V6, or at V6). Although initial reductions in soil mineral N were observed in cereal rye WCC plots at planting of corn, soil mineral N among all cereal rye kill date and early N strategy plots was improved by the V6 stage and remained equal throughout the growing season. Corn under the latest cereal rye kill date in combination with its total N-fertilizer (160 kg N ha−1) allotted at V6 had lower N contents by the R1 stage than any other kill date, N strategy combination. Relative corn N deficiencies and grain yield reductions were not observed unless cereal rye kill date was delayed to one week before optimal corn planting in Illinois (KT3) and N-fertilizer applied in full at the V6 stage of corn development (late N split, V6 strategy). Residual soil nitrate (NO3-N) remaining post-harvest of corn varied between cereal rye WCC treatments and the fallow control depending on the N strategy employed throughout the season, indicating that N usage and demands of a winter fallow cropping system and cereal rye WCC systems under different residue loads require different N-fertilizer strategies to achieve more efficient N synchrony.

Keywords

Corn Soil Mineral Yield Reduction Corn Planting Cereal Winter 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. M. Crandall
    • 1
  • M. L. Ruffo
    • 1
  • G. A. Bollero
    • 1
  1. 1.Crop Sciences Department University of IllinoisUrbanaUSA

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