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Sustainability 2015, 7(11), 15487-15509; doi:10.3390/su71115487

Expanding Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) Usage in the Corn–Soy–Wheat Rotation

Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 956 16-8571, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Received: 10 August 2015 / Revised: 2 November 2015 / Accepted: 10 November 2015 / Published: 20 November 2015
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1031 KB, uploaded 20 November 2015]   |  


A common agronomic recommendation is under-seeding red clover to wheat in the corn–soy–wheat rotation. As a leguminous cover crop, red clover boosts agro-ecological resilience and productivity through nitrogen fixation, as well as non-nitrogen-related contributions, such as soil temperature and moisture regulation; reduction of erosion, runoff, and leaching; weed suppression; and interruption of pest and disease cycles. The objective of this paper is to propose a system that extends red clover usage into the corn phase of the corn–soy–wheat rotation as a living mulch. The system incorporates strip-tillage, strip-mowing, as well as banded herbicide and fertilizer application in order to maximize productivity and minimize competition. We analyzed the feasibility of this proposal by examining red clover’s adequacy for the proposed system in comparison with other broadleaf, leguminous cover crops, and assessed potential agro-ecological benefits. We considered logistical components of the proposition, including the use of strip-tillage, the application of precision technology, as well as the opportunity for further technological developments. We found that the proposed system has potential to increase agro-ecological sustainability, resilience, and the overall productivity of this three-year rotation. Thus, this easily-implemented practice should be formally studied. View Full-Text
Keywords: conservation tillage; corn; cover crop; crop rotation; nitrogen credit; precision agriculture; red clover; resilience; strip-till; weed suppression conservation tillage; corn; cover crop; crop rotation; nitrogen credit; precision agriculture; red clover; resilience; strip-till; weed suppression

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Wyngaarden, S.L.; Gaudin, A.C.; Deen, W.; Martin, R.C. Expanding Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) Usage in the Corn–Soy–Wheat Rotation. Sustainability 2015, 7, 15487-15509.

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