Cover cropping has long been used as a method of reducing soil erosion, increasing soil quality, and suppressing weeds. However, the effects of cover crops in local farming systems are varied and can be affected by timing and method of termination. Field experiments were conducted at two sites in Maryland, USA during the 2013 and 2014 growing seasons to examine how varying the date and method of terminating a barley (Hordeum vulgare
) cover crop affects the arthropod communities in succeeding no-till soybean (Glycine max
). Experimental treatments included early-kill with pre- and post-emergent herbicides (EK), late-kill with pre- and post-emergent herbicides (LK), late-kill with a flail mower and pre-emergent herbicide (FM), and a fallow/bare-ground check with pre- and post-emergent herbicides (BG). Terminating barley late, just prior to soybean planting, resulted in significantly greater biomass accumulation in LK and FM than EK. However, method and timing of termination had no effect on the community of pest and beneficial arthropods in the soybean canopy. Results from this experiment suggest that terminating the cover crop early or late (just prior to crop planting) or using a mower or post-emergent herbicide will result in a similar community of arthropods within the soybean canopy.
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