There has been increased interest in interseeding cover crops into corn. Cover cropping is a way to prevent soil erosion, maintain and/or improve soil nutrients, improve soil aggregation, prevent nutrient loss from runoff, and increase water retention. Such soil improvements can promote conditions that add resiliency to a crop, especially in light of extreme weather patterns that may affect yields. Interseeding can be beneficial by providing year round ground coverage and maximizing a short growing season by interseeding early to allow for full cover crop growth. It can be difficult to grow a successful cover crop, given other demands from a farm operation and weather limitations. One challenge that farmers face when trying to implement interseeding is establishing the cover crops into dense rows of corn. Shading by corn plants restricts cover crop growth especially as the season progresses. Traditionally corn is planted in dense 30-in. rows to maximize yields and decrease weed pressure. In 2018, Practical Farmers of Iowa conducted on-farm research trials to study the effect of wide rows (60-inch) on corn grain yields and cover crop biomass, and researchers saw mixed results (Gailans, 2018). This innovative practice may be a viable solution for farmers in the northeast but research needs to be conducted to determine the impact of wide rows on corn silage yield and quality and cover crop biomass. In 2019, the University of Vermont Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Program initiated a trial to examine the impact of corn row spacing on interseeded cover crop success, and corn yield and quality here in the northeast.
Vermont, University of Vermont, cover crop, wide row corn
Darby, Heather; Ziegler, Sara; Luke, Ivy; and Malone, Rory, "Interseeding Cover Crops into Wide-Row Corn Silage" (2019). Northwest Crops & Soils Program. 337.