Finding the Right Mix: Multifunctional Cover Crop Cocktails for Organic Systems
A six-species cover crop cocktail established following barley harvest, photographed on Oct 26, 2012.
Research Station Experiment
A 30-acre field at the Penn State Russel E. Larson Agronomy Research Farm began transition to certified organic production in 2012 for this project. In the context of a corn silage - soybean - winter wheat crop rotation, we are investigating the effects of cover crop diversity on a suite of ecosystem services. Cover crops are established at two points in the 3-year crop rotation: after winter wheat and after corn silage.
Ecosystem Services Being Assessed
- Nutrient Supply
- Nutrient Retention
- Weed Suppression
- Erosion Control
- Soil Organic Matter Quality
- Pest Regulation
- Crop Yield
- Short-Term Profitability
Cover Crop Treatments
- Red Clover
- Cereal Rye
- Winter Canola
- Winter Pea
- 3-species mix designed for weed suppression
- 3-species mix designed for N retention and provisioning
- 4-species mix including pollinator-friendly species
- 6-species mix
- A commercially-available mix with 8 cultivars
Selected cover crop treatments from the research station experiment are undergoing further testing by farmer collaborators to learn more about performance and management constraints. These sites also serve as convenient locations for farmer learning network activities.