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Cover Crop-Based, Organic Rotational No-Till Corn and Soybean Production Systems in the Mid-Atlantic United States

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Department of Plant Science, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
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Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
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Section of Soil and Crop Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
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Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory, USDA-ARS, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA
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Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, North Carolina State University, NC 27695, USA
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Williston Research Extension Center, North Dakota State University, Williston, ND 58801, USA
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Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Delaware, Georgetown, DE 19947, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Patrick Carr
Agriculture 2017, 7(4), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture7040034
Received: 11 February 2017 / Revised: 30 March 2017 / Accepted: 31 March 2017 / Published: 6 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Tillage for Organic Farming)
Cover crop-based, organic rotational no-till (CCORNT) corn and soybean production is becoming a viable strategy for reducing tillage in organic annual grain systems in the mid-Atlantic, United States. This strategy relies on mechanical termination of cover crops with a roller-crimper and no-till planting corn and soybean into cover crop mulches. Here, we report on recent research that focuses on integrated approaches for crop, nutrient and pest management in CCORNT systems that consider system and regional constraints for adoption in the mid-Atlantic. Our research suggests that no-till planting soybean into roller-crimped cereal rye can produce consistent yields. However, constraints to fertility management have produced less consistent no-till corn yields. Our research shows that grass-legume mixtures can improve N-release synchrony with corn demand and also improve weed suppression. Integration of high-residue inter-row cultivation improves weed control consistency and may reduce reliance on optimizing cover crop biomass accumulation for weed suppression. System-specific strategies are needed to address volunteer cover crops in later rotational phases, which result from incomplete cover crop termination with the roller crimper. The paucity of adequate machinery for optimizing establishment of cash crops into thick residue mulch remains a major constraint on CCORNT adoption. Similarly, breeding efforts are needed to improve cover crop germplasm and develop regionally-adapted varieties. View Full-Text
Keywords: cereal rye; conservation tillage; cover crop; hairy vetch; high-residue cultivation; manure; nitrogen; poultry litter; sustainable agriculture; weed suppression cereal rye; conservation tillage; cover crop; hairy vetch; high-residue cultivation; manure; nitrogen; poultry litter; sustainable agriculture; weed suppression
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Wallace, J.M.; Williams, A.; Liebert, J.A.; Ackroyd, V.J.; Vann, R.A.; Curran, W.S.; Keene, C.L.; VanGessel, M.J.; Ryan, M.R.; Mirsky, S.B. Cover Crop-Based, Organic Rotational No-Till Corn and Soybean Production Systems in the Mid-Atlantic United States. Agriculture 2017, 7, 34.

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