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Agronomy 2019, 9(2), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9020069

Kura Clover Living Mulch: Spring Management Effects on Nitrogen

1
Department of Soil, Water and Climate, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108-6028, USA
2
United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, St. Paul, MN 55108-6028, USA
3
Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108-6028, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 December 2018 / Revised: 22 January 2019 / Accepted: 1 February 2019 / Published: 2 February 2019
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Abstract

Kura clover living mulch (KCLM) systems have the potential to provide ecosystem services in intensively managed cropping systems while supplying soil mineral nitrogen (N) to the growing cash crop. Living mulch management relies on strong spring suppression to reduce competition between vigorous kura clover and emerging row crop seedlings, but standard suppression management practices utilize widely different modes of action. The objective of this research was to gain insight into the impact of common KCLM management practices on early season N dynamics. Kura clover was mowed, and residue was either harvested or returned before rows were established via strip tillage or banded herbicide. Soil and gaseous N pools were monitored for 12 weeks post initial application of suppression management treatments. An enrichment factor (EF) approach was utilized to compare N pools under managed treatments relative to an unmanaged clover control. Strip tillage increased soil N by 300%, while banded herbicide row establishment increased soil N by 220% relative to the unmanaged control. Pre-plant clover harvest reduced short term soil NO3–N, but during later time intervals there was no relationship between residue management and soil N. We conclude that, for the dual goals of maintaining clover perenniality while providing greater soil N enrichment, strip tillage is superior to band herbicide for row establishment. Additionally, pre-plant clover harvest may open opportunities for dual harvests in a single growing season, increasing economic return while maintaining in-season N contributions from the living mulch. View Full-Text
Keywords: kura clover; living mulch; inter-cropping; agronomics; nitrogen; mineralization; enrichment factor kura clover; living mulch; inter-cropping; agronomics; nitrogen; mineralization; enrichment factor
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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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Alexander, J.R.; Venterea, R.T.; Baker, J.M.; Coulter, J.A. Kura Clover Living Mulch: Spring Management Effects on Nitrogen. Agronomy 2019, 9, 69.

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