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Differences in Biomass Production and Water Use Efficiency among Seven Different Cover Crops in the Wet Winter Seasons of 2016/17 and 2018 in South Carolina

1
Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634, USA
2
Clemson University Cooperative Extension, Anderson, SC 29624, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agronomy 2020, 10(4), 463; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10040463
Received: 12 February 2020 / Revised: 20 March 2020 / Accepted: 24 March 2020 / Published: 26 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Farming Sustainability)
Cover crops can protect soil health and increase climate resilience of crop production systems. Agronomic crop producers in the southern USA often demand information on the best cover crops for their locality and cropping system and on the potential impacts of cover crops on stored soil water. The present research evaluated biomass production and water use efficiency (WUE) of single species and multispecies winter cover crops in South Carolina. Overall, a five-species mixture of Austrian winter pea, rye, crimson clover, hairy vetch, and oats and a single species of rye had the greatest biomass production (4600–6480 kg ha−1) at the end of the season (19 April 2017 in season-1 and 10 May 2018 in season-2). The five-species mixture also had the greatest WUE (2184–2232 g m−3). None of the cover crops depleted soil water (in 60 cm depth) greater than a weed-free fallow maintained through herbicide application and a weedy fallow (no herbicide application). Since both the seasons, in which the present study was conducted, received greater than normal rainfall, further studies should verify the applicability of the results in dry years. View Full-Text
Keywords: cover crop; biomass; stored soil water; water use efficiency cover crop; biomass; stored soil water; water use efficiency
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MDPI and ACS Style

St Aime, R.; Zehnder, G.W.; Talley, C.; Narayanan, S. Differences in Biomass Production and Water Use Efficiency among Seven Different Cover Crops in the Wet Winter Seasons of 2016/17 and 2018 in South Carolina. Agronomy 2020, 10, 463.

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