375-18 Cover Crops for Cropping System Diversity and Ecosystem Functionality In Texas.

See more from this Division: S06 Soil & Water Management & Conservation
See more from this Session: Cover Crops: Impacts on Agronomic Crops, Soil Productivity, and Environmental Quality: II
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Henry Gonzalez Convention Center, Hall C, Street Level
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William H. Durham, Rob Ziehr, Gary Rea, Alan Shadow, Joseph Spencer, Rick Leopold, Cliff Kinnibrugh, James Bruce Henderson and Brandt Underwood, NRCS, USDA, Temple, TX
Cover Crops for Cropping System Diversity and Ecosystem Functionality in Texas William Durham, Rob Ziehr, USDA, NRCS, Temple TX; Gary Rea, USDA, NRCS, Knox City TX; Alan Shadow, USDA, NRCS, Nacogdoches, TX. Andy Spencer, USDA, NRCS, Weatherford TX; Rick Leopold, USDA NRCS, Bryan TX; Cliff Kinnibrugh, USDA NRCS, San Angelo TX; James Henderson, USDA NRCS, Corpus Christi TX; Brandt Underwood, USDA NRCS, Lubbock TX. The agricultural landscape in Texas is green for only about six months during the year, with no living cover for the remaining six months (fallow period). This results in a soil surface devoid of plant life which leads to a decrease in ecosystem functionality. The purpose of the Cover Crop Study at the Texas PMC’s is to demonstrate the use of a diverse multi-species cover crop and to measure the soil quality benefits of such implementation in annual cropping scenarios. Cover crops provide many benefits and common uses that include: o Added Organic Matter or Carbon o Reduction in soil erosion o Provide nitrogen o Improve soil structure (Aggregation, Infiltration, Available Water Capacity) o Provide weed control o Manage and recycle nutrients o Furnish moisture conserving mulch (lower soil temperatures) o Provide habitat for beneficial organisms (soil food web) A Winter Cover Crop Mix, containing triticale, hairy vetch, Austrian, winter pea, turnips, and tillage radish, was planted at the Knox City and Nacogdoches Plant Materials Centers in the fall of 2010. Preliminary soil tests were conducted on all plots before planting. Standard soil tests were conducted, along with new experimental soil testing protocols from Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to measure the soil microbial activity. Multi-species cover crops will be planted again in the spring. Standard soils tests and experimental soil tests will be conducted just before planting.