Nitrogen availability, crop growth, and water quality in a living mulch corn production system
Andrews, Joshua Spencer
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The impact of living mulch corn production on nitrogen availability, crop growth, and water quality was investigated. Plant, soil, and water samples were taken over the course of two years in research plots and experimental watersheds. A living mulch system reduced corn growth and grain yield when compared to a cereal rye and crimson clover systems due to reduced N availability. A HYDRUS-1D model was used to estimate water and NO3-N leaching below a 1-m depth from planting in April through February of the next year. In the first model period, the living mulch had lower NO3-N loss than both the cereal rye and crimson clover systems, though little NO3-N was lost during the second model period due to drought. On the experimental watersheds, the living mulch likely reduced runoff volume, and both the living mulch and cereal rye systems reduced sediment loss when compared to previous treatments.