Role of Winter Cover Crops in Reducing Nitrogen Leaching in Sandy Soils

by W. F. Ritter, Univ of Delaware, Newark, United States,
R. W. Scarborough, Univ of Delaware, Newark, United States,
A. E. M. Chirnside, Univ of Delaware, Newark, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Management of Irrigation and Drainage Systems: Integrated Perspectives


The role of rye as a winter cover crop to reduce nitrate leaching was investigated over a three-year period on a loamy sand soil. a cover crop was planted after corn in the early fall and killed in late March or early April the following spring. Notillage and conventional tillage systems were compared along with commercial fertilizer, poultry manure and composted poultry manure as a nitrogen source. The rye cover crop did not reduce corn yields. In only one out of three years did the cover crop remove significant amounts of nitrogen. In order to obtain maximum uptake of residual nitrogen in the fall, the cover crop should be planted by October 1 on the Delmarva Peninsula. The nitrate concentrations in the groundwater did not decrease during the three year study.

Subject Headings: Winter | Crops | Nitrogen | Leaching | Sandy soils | Soil pollution | Soil classification | Groundwater pollution | Delaware | United States

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