Response of Continuous Maize with Stover Removal to Living Mulches

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2012-01-01
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Wiggans, Dustin
Singer, Jeremy
Lamkey, Kendall
Moore, Kenneth
Lamkey, Kendall
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Agronomy
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Agronomy
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Constraints to maize (Zea mays L.) stover biomass harvest may be mitigated by using a living mulch (LM) to offset C exports and control soil erosion. Living mulches can compete with the main crop for resources. The objective of this research was to quantify competitive effects of LM management systems grown in continuous maize with stover removal. Maize was planted into creeping red fescue (CF) (Festuca rubra L.), Kentucky bluegrass (KB) (Poa pratensis L.), and a mixture of CF and white clover (Trifolium repens L.) (MX) LMs in 2008, 2009, and 2010 near Ames, IA. Management treatments were fall strip-tillage (ST) and no-tillage (NT), with either a pre-planting paraquat burn-down followed by two glyphosate bands (PQ) or glyphosate bands only (GLY). Kentucky bluegrass PQ ST produced similar grain yields (11,230 kg ha−1) all 3 yr as the no LM control (11,810 kg ha−1) with a harvest index (HI) of 0.55 compared to 0.52 in the control, averaged across years. The control produced greater stover dry matter (SDM) (10,110 kg ha−1) 2 of the 3 yr compared to KB PQ ST (8600 kg ha−1). Total groundcover averaged 80% in KB PQ ST compared to only 45% in the no LM control. These results indicate that a combination of herbicide suppression and ST suppresses LMs adequately to maintain competitive maize grain yields. Additional research under varying climatic conditions will further quantify the risk of LM management systems to increase the sustainable stover harvest of maize biomass feedstocks.

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This article is published as Wiggans, Dustin R., Jeremy W. Singer, Kenneth J. Moore, and Kendall R. Lamkey. "Response of continuous maize with stover removal to living mulches." Agronomy journal 104, no. 4 (2012): 917-925. doi: 10.2134/agronj2011.0395. Posted with permission.

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