CEREAL RYE IMPACT ON SOYBEAN YIELD ON A ZIEGENFUSS CLAY LOAM SOIL IN SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN
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Adoption of cereal rye (Secale cereal L.) as a cover crop has increased substantially over the past decade providing several agronomic benefits including increases in soil organic matter, aggregation, infiltration, nutrient retention, and protection from soil erosion. However, little data have been provided showing the short-term economic advantages of cereal rye ahead of soybeans (Glycine max L. Merr.). The objectives of this study were to observe soybean developmental factors following cereal rye, to measure the impact cereal rye has on spring soil nitrate levels, and to quantify the short-term impact of cereal rye establishment on soybean yield and profitability in a corn-soybean rotation grown in the Western Lake Erie Basin. Soybean plant density was not affected by cereal rye treatments at either site. Soybean tissue nutrient concentrations showed lower nitrogen and magnesium levels in cereal rye treatments. Soybean seed yield had a yield neutral response to cereal rye cover crops while spring soil nitrate concentrations decreased by 57% and 43% in the Jaffe and Home sites, respectively, where cereal rye was grown. Producers in the Western Lake Erie Basin can use cereal rye cover crops ahead of soybean to reduce soil nitrate losses. However, soybean yield increases may not be evident after only one year of cereal rye cover crop adoptions and, therefore, resulting in an economic loss associated with cereal rye cover crop adoption.