In this study we are evaluating the advantages of cover crops and their ability to increase yield, soil tilth, scavenge and produce nitrogen, and shatter compaction. Corn was planted into 5 different cover crops that were planted each fall since 2011. In addition, we also evaluated 3 different nitrogen programs to evaluate nitrogen scavenging and sequestration. These nitrogen rates consisted of 180 lbs. (100%N program), 135 lbs. (75% N program), and 90 lbs. (50% N program).
In two years of results, annual ryegrass by itself topped the list for return on investment, measured in both yield and in revenue differences per acre. In both years, the second best producer was annual ryegrass in a blend with crimson clover and radish. See the results of the first year’s results in 2012, by clicking here.
Just recently, Beck’s released subsequent information – comparing results from the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Click here for an informative video.
Results: Looking at 2012 (a drought year) and 2013, the weather was distinctly different. Yet, in both years, annual ryegrass bested any other cover crop. In 2012, the yield in fields with annual ryegrass exceeded those with no cover crop by16 bu/ac, which translated into a revenue boost of $72/acre. In 2013, the results were the same, with an increase of almost $60/ac. over plots with no cover crop.
Finally, it’s interesting that while some cover crops increased yield with higher nitrogen inputs, annual ryegrass did better as the rates dropped! The return was best when the N application rate was at 50%.